Matabeleland North province has so far planted 154 hectares out of the targeted 657 for wheat production this year.

This constitutes only 23 percent of the targeted area in the entire province.

The delays in the planting of wheat is attributed to the challenges experienced by farmers which have slowed down the harvesting of maize to make way for the winter crop.

In areas where harvesting has been completed, land preparations is progressing well and farmers already have the inputs for the winter crop.

Bubi has planted 74 percent of the targeted area in the district, followed by Umguza which has done 24 percent.

Although Lupane has 250 hectares to plant, it has only done 5 percent while Hwange and Binga are yet to start planting.

Matabeleland North provincial crop and livestock officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni says the target for this year is to harvest at least five tonnes per hectare but urged farmers to be alert as there are suspicions that the fall army worm might attack wheat in the same manner that it did with the maize crop during the summer cropping season.

“We had a serious fall army worm in the province which we suspect may also affect our wheat crop. It therefore calls on farmers to be very vigilant from day one after emergency. It means the farmer has to scout the fields at least three times a day first thing in the morning, midday and late in the day and make sure that should there be any observed symptoms of the pest attacking then we are quick to spray. We have the chemicals to support the small holder farmer but with fall army worm, the secret to success is early detection of the attack,” said Mr Nyoni.

During the 2016 wheat season, ARDA Jotsholo had the highest yield in the province with nine tonnes per hectare from 156 hectares that was planted.

a total of 1200 tonnes of wheat was delivered to the Grain Marketing Board from Matabeleland North province.