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close this bookBetter Farming Series 15 - Cereals (FAO - INADES, 1977, 51 p.)
close this folderGrowing cereals in the modern way
View the documentClearing land and grubbing out trees
View the documentConserving and improving the soil
View the documentApplying manure and fertilizers
View the documentPreparing the soil
View the documentSelecting and preparing seeds
View the documentSowing in rows
View the documentHow to look after cereals
View the documentHarvesting
View the documentSelling part of the harvest

How to look after cereals

· Seedlings which have not grown must be replaced.

A week after sowing you will see empty places where no plants have grown. Sow again in these empty places, so as to have a fully planted field of good density.

· Thinning must be done.

If you have sown in seed holes, there are often 4 or 5 young plants in each seed hole. To make the cereals grow better, it is best not to keep all the seedlings. Keep only two seedlings in each hole. Pull out the smallest, and keep the best plants.

When you pull out the unwanted seedlings, you disturb the soil. So you must press the soil back round the young plants that remain

You must press the soil

With one hand, hold the soil round the plants that are not removed.


Cultivating means removing weeds.

· Why cultivating is needed

Weeds in the ground take food away from the crop. They take water and mineral salts out of the soil. They also take the mineral salts added in fertilizers.

Weeds take the place of good plants. They cast shade by cultivating, you stir up the soil. You mix air with the soil, break up the dry crust, and prevent water from rising and being lost. The soil remains moister.

· When to cultivate

The first cultivation must be done when the weeds are still small, two weeks after sowing.
This first cultivation is very important, because it enables the young plants to make a good start.

Afterwards you must cultivate twice more, each time when the weeds have grown.

When you cultivate you can also do the earthing up. At the base of the cereal stem there are adventitious roots. To make these roots grow well, earth must be placed around the foot of the stem. This is called earthing up. Do the earthing up at the same time as the first cultivation.

· How to cultivate

You can cultivate with a hand hoe or with an animal- drawn cultivator.

If the cereals are sown in rows, you can work more quickly by using an animal- drawn cultivator. The work is well done and you can cultivate more often. The cultivator uproots the weeds between the rows. Afterwards you must go with the hand hoe to take out the weeds in the rows.

Leave uprooted weeds on the ground. They protect the soil against erosion and against the sun. They rot and form humus.

Animal- drawn cultivator


The chief enemies of cereals are animals, and above all, birds.

· Goats, sheep and cows go into fields of millet, maize and rice and eat the young plants. You can surround the fields with a fence so that the animals cannot get in. But the best way is to shut up all the animals. Put the oxen and cows in one paddock, and the sheep and goats in another. Then your fields will not be spoiled.

· But the most dangerous enemies are birds.

First of all, they may eat the seeds in the earth, just after sowing.
But above all, they come and eat the grains in the ear, when the crop is ripe.
Usually children guard the fields and chase the birds away.
But nowadays children go to school.
You can put scarecrows, dressed to look like a man, in the fields.
The birds are frightened and do not come and eat the grain.

· Different insects may also attack cereals, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers, aphids . You can control insects by using a pesticide such as BHC.