grain; sunflower; rotation

Farmers’ Diaries: Abram Motswai

SUNFLOWERS
Abram Motswai, Legonyane, Brits, North West

We are planting sunflower on virgin lands that were debushed a few weeks ago. This is communal land, so we’re erecting an electric fence to stop cattle from getting in.

Livestock breaking into planted lands on communal ground is a big problem and sometimes a regular fence isn’t enough to keep animals out. So we’ve decided to put up additional electric lines, which we will keep live for the duration of the production season.

Our planting window lasts until the end of January, but we aim to be finished by the end of the first week in January. We’ve had some good rain and land preparation has already started. Because we have just debushed, we had to deep-rip toremove roots and loosen the soil.

After that we disc and make the seed beds before we plant. We are planting Clearfield Plus hybrid sunflower seed from Agricol. With the kind of rain we’ve had, we are hopeful that soil moisture and temperature will ensure good germination.

After that we’ll just have to manage weeds to prevent competition with the sunflower crop. Weeds easily outcompete young sunflower plants and we need to get rid of them before the crop forms a canopy or it will affect our yields.

Our biggest challenge with the sunflower crop is the birds, but we have to strategise and plan to manage the birds and then we should be good for the season.

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