Marizka Coetzer
2 minute read
10 May 2022
9:42 am

Warmer winter ahead?

Marizka Coetzer

SA farmers say they prefer a colder winter because parasites, mosquitoes and larvae can freeze to death.

How to keep warm in the winter when the power is out Copyright: Richard Thomas

FORECAST: ‘Cold will start rolling in from the middle of the month’

Drier weather conditions are favourable for harvesting.

With the cold knocking on our doors, experts and farmers are expecting a slightly warmer winter this year.

South African Weather Service forecaster Ishmael Moyo warned cold weather would start rolling in from the middle of the month. Moyo said Gauteng residents could expect the temperatures to drop from next week.

“There will be a recovery in the temperatures to the central parts this week before the clear drop in temperatures sets in,” he said.

Moyo adds that normal minimum and maximum temperatures for the central and northern parts of South Africa were forecast.

Chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa Wandile Sihlobo said the drier weather conditions currently were favourable for the harvest process.

“Heading into the winter season, we looked at two things from an agriculture perspective, the harvest of summer crops and the planting of winter crops,” he said.

Sihlobo said this year’s harvest was slightly delayed – compared to last year’s – due to the heavy rains at the start of the season.

“The prolonged rain led to a delayed start in planting in some parts of the country. “We are expecting a good crop this season,” he added.

Sihlobo said they were worried that the higher fertiliser prices would infect the planting negatively.

“The data we have suggests winter crop plantings have increased by six% on a year-on-year basis,” he said.

TLU SA chair Bertus van der Westhuizen said farmers preferred a coldish winter. “So that all the mosquitoes, parasites and larvae can freeze to death,” he said.

Van der Westhuizen said some farmers were getting ready to harvest. “After harvesting, we let the cattle into the lands to eat the rest of the produce left on the land. Then we start preparing the lands for the next season,” he said.

Van der Westhuizen added extreme low temperatures were unfavourable for cattle, which suffered in the cold.

Democratic Alliance MPL and spokesperson for agriculture in Gauteng Ina Cilliers said it was already wetter than usual in Gauteng, where farmers were now finishing the summer harvest.

“According to the SA Weather Service, we will also get higher than normal rainfall this season. Farmers may struggle to harvest when the fields are wet,” she said.

Cilliers said despite the wetter conditions, farmers still needed to farm smartly with permanent strategies for water conservation and land and field wellness.

Currently, the capacity of at least four major dams bode well for winter, with the Vaal Dam 107.1% full, Sterkfontein Dam at 103%, Grootdraai Dam at 102.6% and Bloemhof Dam at 103.1%.

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