1 479 hectares of the wheat crop in Matabeleland South is now at various stages of growth amid high expectations that the province will realise optimum yields.

ARDA Antelope Estate in Maphisa Matobo district which put 650 hectares of land under the wheat crop is expecting its first harvest on the 10th of September as 270 hectares of the cereal is now at maturing stage with the remaining hectarage at soft door stage.

Speaking to the ZBC News, the estate manager Mr Alec Chinyai said they are anticipating a yield of 7.5 tonnes per hectare up from 7.2 tonnes realised last season.

“We are expecting to deliver to GMB an excess of 5 000 tonnes because are anticipated yield is seven tonnes per hectare. Our head count is impressing, because our average population is sitting at 600 000 plants per hectare. Last year it was 7.2 tonnes per hectare,” he said. 

According to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, 1 479 hectares was put under the winter crop this season in the province compared to 2 000 hectares planted last year.

The decline in command wheat production is attributed to the failure by farmers to repay their loans.

“Our hectarage is going down simply because we did not rope in those who failed to offset their debt. We want them to take a breather then join the programme later. Otherwise the winter wheat crop is doing well in most areas where the crop was planted,” he said.

Agriculture experts have projected that the province will attain an average yield of five tonnes per hectare from the wheat crop.

17 farmers took up the command wheat programme this year.