Cooler summer expected for SA, good news for farmers

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This type of weather bodes well for the upcoming summer harvest, adds Christo van der Rheede, CEO of Agri SA.
This type of weather bodes well for the upcoming summer harvest, adds Christo van der Rheede, CEO of Agri SA.
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In contrast to record heat waves in the northern hemisphere, South Africa could expect lower-than-normal maximum temperatures this summer and good rainfall, Weather SA says.

The weather forecast suggests it will remain in a La Niña phase, which for Southern Africa implies likely another good rainy season, according to agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo. 

This type of weather bodes well for the upcoming summer harvest, adds Christo van der Rheede, CEO of Agri SA.

"We are in a wet cycle, similar to the season just concluded. We expect another season with above average rainfall, not much different from what we just had. So, summer production looks favourable, especially for crop production," says agricultural economist John Hudson of Nedbank.

He cautions that normally in high rainfall years, there can be a lot of cloud cover, which can have a negative impact on so-called heat units. Crops need enough sunshine, so if they are not getting enough, they cannot give maximum yield. Furthermore, the prediction of below normal maximum temperatures could cause sub-optimum growing conditions and excessive rainfall can potentially cause damage to crops and infrastructure.

The crop might, therefore, not be as big as last year, but Hudson expects it will still be a good crop and well above the 10-year average. "Overall, the outlook is positive. We expect another above average maize and soya crop and that bodes well for the sector," says Hudson.

According to Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing's Quality Manager Henk Griessel, apple and pear trees will flower soon. It is critical not to have below zero temperatures over the next few weeks, as it might lead to frost damage in the flower.

"Last year we had good crops and we are keen to see in December how this season turns out," says Griessel.

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