Harmattan and Its Effect on Crop Production

Harmattan can be either a great asset or trait for farmers depending on the season, location, timing, and other related factors. Some farmers appreciate the harmattan season while some dislike the season due to the peculiar effects of the season on their crops.

This is because to some farmers;

Harmattan season is the season for them to dry their crops completely for free at no extra charge for drying harvested crops 

While for others;

The season destroys their farm crops with winds by dispersing their crops, which makes the farmers lose their intended crop yields thereby incurring a great loss for their efforts as against the profits.

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Harmattan definition: What is Harmattan?

Definition Harmattan – Harmattan is a cool dry wind that blows from the Northeast or East in Western Sahara, it occurs over the West African nations. 

The season is characterized by intense dryness, very little humidity, dust, and sand particles in the air, and vastly fluctuating ambient temperatures all over the place.

It happens to be stronger in late falls and winter usually between late November to Mid-March and carries large amounts of dust which either assists the farmers to dry their crops or disperse them.  

The harmattan wind transports hundreds of kilometers out over the Atlantic Ocean and may cause air temperature in parts of Western Africa to fall to 9 °C (48.2 °F).

However, apart from perennial crops, rice in wetlands, or cassava, the period generally matches with the ripening or harvesting of rain-fed crops.

On the other hand, The winds sometimes sweep in sands from the Sahara that can ravage some crops like cocoa pods and sap soil moisture thereby damaging their bean size.

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Harmattan and Its Effect on Crop Production

Advantages of Harmattan in Crop Production

1) One of the great benefits of the season to farmers is that it comes to helps farmers dry their crops well since it is harvest time, thereby making the dry wind useful for those who want to dry their farm crops.

2) It also helps in reducing the aflatoxin level in the seeds like corn, bean, soy, peanut, etc. which is an advantage for producers.

The dust usually comprises plant particles like grasses, dry flowers, pollen, animals waste products like bird feathers, and other animal waste of all kinds. 

The dust also comprises microbes, viruses, parasites, and microscopic fungi.

Aflatoxins for instance are toxic substances produced by certain types of fungi (molds) that are naturally found all over the world. 

Aflatoxins can contaminate food crops and can also pose a serious threat to humans and livestock.

According to research, they are responsible for 25% or more of the destruction of food crops in the world each year.

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Disadvantages of Harmattan in Crop Production

1) The harmattan wind can increase fire risk and cause severe crop damage by burning the farmers’ crops

2) The wind can disperse the farmers’ crop thereby destroying all the farmer’s efforts and potential crop income yield while creating a huge loss for his or her inputs.

3) In the absence of enough rainfall, crops like cocoa farms and the likes could be affected severely by the harmattan season.

This is because the dryness in the dusty winds tends to abort the cocoa flowers, which normally mature into Cherelles before becoming pods (the fleshy elongated vessels that host the beans).

4) Some farming practices like tillage before planting becomes more difficult during the harmattan season as the soil gets more dry and dusty.

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Precautionary Measures to Prevent Harmattan Disasters in Crop Production

Farmers should avoid indiscriminate bush burning after they have harvested their crops to prevent the possibility of causing an uncontrollable fire outbreak on the entire farm and neighbourhood.

Bush burning during harmattan could be very disastrous as it could affect the neighbouring farms with economic trees and destroy important micronutrients in the soil.

Farmers should rather gather the trashes at various spots before burning bushes as a way of clearing the land before the next cropping season.

If it is a forest area where the undergrowth is very thick, the duration of burning will be longer and this is very destructive to some essential soil micro-organisms in the soil that perform the job of “mineralization” of nutrients in their organic form and make them soluble.

When those micro-organisms are destroyed, the nutrient will remain in the organic form, and in terms of availability to crops during cropping, it will be a problem.

The best method of control is to first slash the areas to be burnt on the farm and then do spot burning; if there are trees, they should do selective cutting of trees so that the whole place is not exposed to erosion.

Bush burning especially during the harmattan should be avoided because bush burning, whether the result of a wildfire or a controlled burn, affects not only the appearance of the landscape but the quality of the soil.

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Crop production and crop production services can be beneficial to the farmer if done correctly, therefore adequate measures should be adhered to by the farmer to ensure that profits are being made from the efforts especially during the harmattan season.

Do you have any question, suggestion or other contributions? kindly use the comment box provided below for all your contributions. You are also encouraged to please kindly share this article with others you feel can benefit from this information if found useful enough as we may not be able to reach everyone at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing!

Do you have any questions, suggestions, or other contributions? Kindly use the comment box provided below for all your contributions. You are also encouraged to please kindly share this article with others you feel can benefit from this information if found useful enough as we may not be able to reach everyone at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing!

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer (With over 12 years of professional experience in the agricultural industry) - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: Agric4profits.com - It's All About Agriculture, The Way Forward! Agric4profit.com - The Most Reliable Global Agricultural & Waste Management Forum! Agric4profit.com.ng - The Most Reliable Agricultural Job Board! TheAgriPedia.com - Your Reliable E-Learning Agricultural Academy! WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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