Make the seasons your friend

Eric Mauwane, owner of Oneo Farms, loves his chilli and pepper crops. He wants his brand to become a household name one day. Lindiwe Sithole, host of African Farming Season 2, travelled to Tarlton to share this farmer’s story of resilience and perseverance. 

A vegetable farmer’s greatest partner is the environment. He or she needs to have a deep understanding of the seasons and the best crops to plant. “How do farmers like Mauwane choose the right crop to grow at the right time of the year?” Sithole wants to know. Matome Ramokgopa of Enza Zaden SA says choosing the right crop or cultivar is the first step to setting yourself up for success. 

According to Ramokgopa, it is essential to study the growing conditions on your farm. “Do you have an open field or are your crops under protection? What is the weather like in your region? You have to factor in immediate surroundings and the type of structures that you have, so that you can match the variety with conditions on your farm.” 

He says when you choose a crop, you need to make sure you invest in the latest seed technology. “Look out for varieties that can give you the upper hand from the start. Invest in genetics that back you so that you begin on a positive note,” he explains. 

Ramokgopa believes farmers should plan by keeping the end goal in mind. “Then work your steps out backwards: when will the variety go into production, how long is the seeding time and so forth. When you have a solid production plan, you can maximise your production cycle by choosing the right time of the year to plant. Always choose a planting time that is early in the season so that you have enough time to deliver your product to the markets.” 

Enza Zaden’s breeding efforts focus on more than 30 vegetable varieties. The company enters into a dialogue with and closely listens to the market. It also follows global trends to obtain information that it then translates into innovative vegetable varieties and high-quality seeds.

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