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CTA. 2004. Groundnuts. Rural Radio Resource Pack 04/01. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57185
Wellington Phewa, an extension methodology officer describes the different methods that farmers can use for controlling weeds in groundnuts during the crop cycle, and the advantages of crop rotation.
Groundnuts Cue: Protecting groundnut seedlings from competition with weeds, is one of the most important factors in getting a good harvest. Unfortunately, the time of the early rains when this weeding needs to be done is also the time when farmers are most busy, for example planting other crops. But if weeding of groundnuts is delayed, yields fall sharply, so what can farmers do to solve this difficulty? One important strategy is good land preparation. Burning crop residues and weed plants just before the first rains helps to clear the land, and the ash can be lightly dug into the soil. If animal traction is available, deep ploughing and harrowing can delay the emergence of weeds by several weeks, giving farmers time to finish their other planting tasks before needing to weed their young groundnut crop. Herbicides applied either before or after the groundnut seedlings emerge are a good way of reducing the labour requirement of weeding, but are not commonly used because of the costs involved. Our next report features Wellington Phewa, an Extension Methodology Officer from Lilongwe in Malawi, who talks to Excello Zidana about common weed control practices used by Malawian groundnut farmers. IN: ?Weed control is very ? OUT: ?which the farmer might access.? DUR?N 4?53? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Wellington Phewa emphasising the importance of good weed control in groundnut crops. Transcript Phewa Weed control is very very important because of several reasons. One of them is to try and reduce the competition for nutrients, for sunshine that exists in a field where the weeds and crops are growing together. Another reason why we have to control weeds is to reduce the area where pests and disease parasites can hide. Zidana Can you elaborate more on that one? Phewa They are certainly insect pests which sometimes need to hibernate or breed or even to stay over from one season to another on those crops that are growing, which are weeds, which if they were cleared probably would have cut down their life cycle and therefore reduced their population. Zidana When is weed control supposed to start? Phewa Weeds are supposed to be removed as soon as they appear because we don?t want them in the field. So as soon as you are able to see that there are weeds here they have to be got rid of. Zidana Lets talk of groundnuts. How is weed control done in groundnut? Phewa In a groundnut field there are normally, in a Malawi context, two ways of controlling weeds. The first one is the hand hoeing using a hand hoe. This is normally done maybe once, sometimes twice, but it?s normally done when the crop is still small. The second type is the hand weeding, direct uprooting of the weeds in the field, especially after the crop has started podding. Zidana Why is it not recommended for somebody to weed his field using hoes when maybe the crop is podding? Phewa After the crop has started podding, if you bring in a hand hoe normally you disturb the pods that are just establishing. And in the process you lose some of what would have grown into mature nuts in the later stages. Hence it is recommended that the weeds should be removed by hand, by just making sure it is the weed only that is uprooted without disturbing the soil structure. Zidana Why is weeding done several times in the groundnut field when the groundnut is ready maybe for lifting? Phewa Especially for groundnuts, in the later stages if the weeds are left it becomes very very difficult when you are lifting the nuts because there will be a lot of weed and in the process you may leave behind a lot of nuts which you may not trace in the weedy field. Again the weeds invite pests especially rats, rodents, which are a menace to our matured crop if they are not properly controlled. Zidana How do you look at weed control using maybe hoes and hands as opposed to chemical weed control? Phewa Chemical weed control is normally the easiest but the most expensive and in the context of a Malawi farmer it?s very difficult for him to afford the chemicals that would be required for weeding. Hence we still depend on the manual, hand hoe use and the physical uprooting of the weeds themselves. Zidana Many people say that crop rotation also helps in the weed control. How do you look at crop rotation? Phewa It is true that crop rotation assists in the reduction of certain types of weeds in the fields. You know naturally certain crops do better with certain weeds than others. And if for example a type of weed is growing in a field where a certain crop which it does not properly grow together with for a year, the population will have dropped by the next year. So if you grow the same crop in the same field for several years it will be the same type of weed that will have multiplied. If you keep changing you will also be giving chance for that crop to affect negatively the vigour of the weeds that do not favour growing side by side by that particular crop. Zidana And conclusively, what can you say about weed control in any crop including groundnut? Phewa In concluding I would say that it is very important that any farmer who really wants to get the best out of his yields has to undertake regular weed control throughout the growing period up to harvesting just as I?ve indicated, otherwise there is a lot of loss in yield when the fields are not properly taken care of despite use of other inputs which the farmer might access. End of track.