Harvesting correctly

Some simple steps will enable you to harvest in an efficient way and prepare well for the next crop. Snap the maize stalks down with your foot and lay them down in the rows.

Harvesting correctly
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The way we end one season will significantly affect the start of the next. This is the first thing to remember when it comes to harvesting. To ensure things go smoothly, follow a few simple steps.

Weed control
Keep your lands weed-free until harvest. We discussed this in a previous article, but it can’t be stressed enough.

Harvest on time and store the crop suitably to reduce unnecessary loss.

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Find a market
Good farmers always have an eye on the market for their produce and look for new opportunities. However, buyers often don’t reveal their buying price until harvest time, so unless you have a contract in place, research the best options.
Tend to your harvest while exploring the options for sales and transport. Transport costs and timing must be taken into consideration. Planning ahead and being on time can mean the difference between profit or loss.

Late weeding
Once the rush of harvesting and getting the crop to market has died down, return to your lands to finish the season well.
Before knocking down the stalks, do one more weeding to ensure there aren’t going to be any plants stealing moisture and nutrients from the land in winter. It’s much easier to do this final weeding before you knock down the stalks.

Snap the maize stalk down at ground level with your foot. This breaks the stalk borer’s life cycle. The stalk borer pupates just above ground level in the upright stalk. If the stalk is broken more than 4cm above the ground, the pupa survives to grow into a moth and the cycle continues. But if the stalk is broken down less than 4cm above the ground, and lies flat on the soil surface, the pupa is exposed to the sun and dies. Lay the stalks down along the rows. In this way you’ll have an even covering of mulch on your land, reducing evaporation during winter.

Foundations for Farming (FFF) is a Zimbabwe-based NGO that teaches conservation agriculture practices to farmers, based on Christian principles. FFF provided the information for this article. Visit www.foundationsforfarming.org.