Dry season irrigation plays a key role in the economics of Nigeria as a basic source of food, income and employment, especially for farmers in Fadama areas. The practice has increased significantly over the last few years because of increasing demand due to increasing population, high cost of vegetables especially in the dry season, and as an additional source of income to the farmers. Groundnut was not commonly grown in the dry season in northern Nigeria, but a finding by ICRISAT-Kano on dry season groundnut production especially using early-maturing variety Samnut-24 revealed that it can successfully and profitably be grown. Unlike vegetables and fruits grown in the dry season, the groundnut produced during this period coincides with the period of demand for groundnut seeds, thereby making a market readily available to the farmers. In addition, the fodder from groundnut plants in the dry season provides a good source of income to the farmers, since fodder is usually most expensive in the dry season. The problems of postharvest losses and market congestion as in the case of fruits and vegetables are also not a problem with regard to groundnut. Through the effort of GNVC and availability of early-maturing heat-tolerant varieties, dry season groundnut production has been adopted by a large number of farmers in several states in Nigeria and the adoption rate is still growing.Groundnut production in the dry season involves the same cultural practices as in the rainy season, but with slight modification. The basic cultural practices are as follows:
Land preparation is same as in rainy season cultivation
The best time for planting is between January 15 and February 15, when temperatures are high (30oC-38oC), to enhance good seed germination and seedling development. Alternatively, groundnut can be planted at the end of the rainy season in mid-October.
Planting can be done on ridges or flat beds using furrows. Planting on ridges should be done on sides of the ridges to ensure surface irrigation water reaches the seed for uniform germination and proper crop development.
Dry season groundnut production should be done where there is a source of water for irrigation. Depending on soil type and climatic condition, an irrigation interval of 7-10 days can sustain groundnut growth. Too much water should be avoided. Usually furrow irrigation is practiced, and it is advisable to adopt sprinkler irrigation to ensure more crop per drop of water.
Since dry season groundnut production is usually done in areas where other crops are grown in the dry season, the major problem is that of defoliator and/or sucking insect pests. There are many alternative hosts for groundnut insect pests that may be present on other farms; therefore, 2-3 applications of insecticides such as cypermethrine + dimethoate should be undertaken to protect the plants.
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