Agronomic practices, major crops and farmers’ perceptions of the importance of good stand establishment in Musikavanhu Communal Area, Zimbabwe
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Surveys were conducted of rain-fed crops growing in farmers’ fields in the Musikavanhu Communal Area in Natural Region V of Zimbabwe during and after the 19S5/96 cropping season. The major crops were sorghum, maize and sunflower grown by 94.36 and 15 per cent of the farmers, respectively, and occupied 82.12 and seven per cent of the land. Eleven sorghum cultivars were grown in the area during the 1995/96 season, although only four were grown by more than 10 per cent of the farmers. The most popular maize variety was grown by 28 per cent of farmers on 10 per cent of the land, but had been distributed as part of a drought relief package. Stand establishment was identified as a major crop production constraint in this area. More than 50 percent of the farmers gap-filled at least once and there was a good correlation (R2 = 0.73) between frequency of re-sowing of sorghum and the number of varieties present in fields because seed of the initial, preferred variety was not available for later sowings. On-farm seed priming was fairly common in maize and transplanting, using thinnings, was almost universal in sorghum.