Field Crops

SA pear producers get cheeky

Cheeky, the newest blushed-pear variety to be released to the South African industry, is the result of 16 years of hard work by renowned plant breeder Taaibos Human. Industry sources see it as the first significant new addition to South Africa's range of pear varieties in two decades, an early ripening variety that can be marketed before the highly profitable and popular Forelle.

Diversified farming, booming business

A mission station in the rural hilltops of KwaZulu-Natal has diversified into a range of agricultural activities, but peppers grown under state-of-the-art greenhouses and export avocados are the main commercial crops. Robyn Joubert reports on an extraordinary farming enterprise.

Double-crop your way forward

Local farmers would do well to emulate the UK's approach of double-cropping, ecologist Ben Breedlove tells Roelof Bezuidenhout. So, instead of just harvesting a planted crop, why not also slash inputs with beneficial insects, and lure hunters to harvest increased bird populations.

Soil organisms for sustainable farming

Ben Krog, MD of fertiliser company Profert, understands there’s more to soil health than piling on chemicals. He told Annelie Coleman about the vital role played by soil microorganisms, especially when it comes to sequestering carbon and countering the effects of climate change.

Nature: farmer’s best friend

A vegetable farmer in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, who converted to biological crop production, has significantly increased yield, improved quality and reduced input costs. Robyn Joubert reports.

Making money from muck

Nutrient-rich dairy slurry was once considered a liability and a pollutant, but the current high fertiliser price has changed all that, says dairy technical consultant Gavin Brockett. Robyn Joubert spoke to him.

Good choices keep costs down

The winner of the Berg River Table Grape Competition for 2008 Johann Britz of the farm Tweespruit near Paarl, chose a pitted grape cultivar because he believed it was best-suited to his farm’s terroir. With attention to detail, he now exports a quality product and is expanding his vineyards, writes Wouter Kriel.

Humates: snake oil or valuable resource?

While humates are promoted as an almost magic potion by some, sub-standard products have battered their reputation. Glenneis Erasmus talked to several agriculturists to find out what they are, how to use them and how to ensure product quality.

Clearing aliens the environmentally friendly way

In South Africa, eradicating invasive woody alien vegetation for alternative land use is normally a relatively heavy-handed method involving big drums of diesel or water and herbicide.

‘We’re going to be the Brazil of Africa’

While much is still uncertain about the local biofuel industry, Mozambique is already planting vast jatropha plantations for biodiesel production. The country's minister of Science and Technology has announced that it aims to become the Brazil of Africa. Fanie van Rooyen went to Mozambique to visit what's probably one of the biggest jatropha plantations in the world, and discovered it's run by a South African.

New top cultivars at Nampo

Seed breeders and suppliers provided colourful and informative exhibition stands yet again at Nampo Harvest Day 2007. In this week, we introduce you to some new champions in the field of maize cultivars and other seed varieties. Peter Hittersay did the rounds of suppliers' stands and reports on the new 2007 releases and the claims for each cultivar.

Mealybugs: villains of the vine

Last week's article showed the impact that leafroll virus can have on vine quality and production, and stressed the need for vigorous measures against mealybug. This week Glenneis Erasmus covers effective monitoring and control protocols.

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