When to Prime

Dear All,

Evaporation 7 to 13 December 8, 7, 5-2, 4, 2-1, 1-10, 4-7 and I hope you all got something useful because the forecasts seem to think it is now going away. (They have been wrong about it coming, so perhaps they will be wrong about it going away!)

I have Mike Beckett’s rainfall records going back to 1950 and, when I look at the 5 driest totals to the end of November, one of those still had 950mm total for the season, so we COULD still get enough rain fro the dams.

I wanted to know whether to prime my October crop early or late, so I sent my clerk to measure stalks. We obviously cannot do it 100% accurately (because we cannot weigh the un-reaped stalk!) but, putting in an estimate of weight (based on height and diameter of stalk squared) I could not see any difference. However, Troy tells me that in his October field (which is slightly earlier planted and better watered than mine) where he did NOT prime, he has had to top. Therefore he seems to have evidence that early priming DELAYS topping – this could be a useful technique to delay the October crop (to avoid overlap with the irrigated).

I have made my first breakthrough with my village neighbours as one village (Masinza – NE of me, N of James) has agreed to get his village mapped. Preliminary measurements show that he has an area very similar to me (+/- 2500ha) and so could (if they farmed it with co-operative planning) have about 600head of cattle – nearly 3 times their present number AND keep their grass and their trees. In fact I have just completed an exercise for the whole of Chief Siachitema’s area which shows he controls an area 110 times bigger than my farm. Again, he has the land for a herd of 60,000 head of cattle (plus similar quantity of goats).

It is going to be a long journey and I only wish I had started it 30 years ago.



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