Farming 101Instructional MaterialPests and DiseasesvaMudhumeni

Sorghum production in Lowveld

By Fambisai FLoyd

Lowveld area is characterized with very high temperatures in summer of over 40°c, rainfall less than 300 mm per annum and warm winter season, it covers areas of Chiredzi, Save, Beitbridge, Gwanda, Hwange Kariba and other pockets of Zimbabwe. 

Sorghum can be used as food, stock feed, and fuel (ethanol), a crop that farmers can where there are high chances of drought

Fertilizers

Application of compound D at rate of 150-300 kg/ha before the onset of rains and  top dressing of Ammonium nitrate at a rate of 100-200 kg/ha applied 6-8 weeks after emergence the crop also responds well to manure application 10 t per ha and above.

Varieties

  • Sila It is an improved white variety good for human and animal consumption, medium maturity variety yield potential of 6 tons.
  • Chitichi A traditional open pollinated white grained variety grown in Chiredzi Chikombedzi area, it tillers well and early maturing variety 70-90 days.
  • Macia  An improved open-pollinated variety creamy white seeds takes 110 to 120 days to maturity.
  •  SV-4 Open pollinated variety that is uniform in height. Medium maturing variety that produces white grain good milling qualities.
  • Smile Early maturing red seeded short OPV with good brewing qualities yield potential of 6 tons good drought tolerant and heat stress variety
  • SV-2 Open pollinated whited grain variety, semi dwarf variety thin stem.  Matures in about 110 to 115 days
  • Mupositori Local variety common in Chiredzi have a head which bends downwards as the knobkerrie carried by Vapositori sect. Large size red seeded grain, heavy tillering variety with yield potential to 4-5/ha. Matures at 90 -100 days.
  • Planting Use the seed rate of 8-10 kg /ha at spacing is 75 cm between rows and 15-20 cm between plants in a row. The use of soil and water conservation methods such as tie-ridging, pot holing and deep trenches is advisable to conserve moisture and soil
  • Weed management Weeding mybe done in early stage of crop growth through hand weeding or the use ox-drawn cultivators. The crop is very sensitive to weed competition during the early stages of growth and establishment. This can be done at same time with thinning.  The use of herbicides is also encourage to reduce labour bottle necks

Disease and pest management

Birds are the most problematic pest and scaring is the best though the use of bird repellents is also recommended

  • Harvesting/drying /storage Harvesting is normally done when plants reached maturity. Leaves will be turn yellowish and beginning to dry up naturally.
  • Marketing marketing of sorghum is done through the Grain Marketing Board that presets the prices. Private companies like Delta can buy brewing sorghum from farmers.

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