The Free State and other parts of the central region are likely to receive very little rains over the winter period but that’s not likely to impact on winter farming as most dams are full following the recent rains, the SA Weather Services said.
SA Weather Services forecaster Michael Nethavhani told The Weekly in a telephone interview yesterday that the south-western parts of the country, which include Western Cape coastal areas and parts of the Eastern Cape, were set to receive normal to above rains during winter while the central region could get below normal rains.
“The normal winter rains for the south-western parts are about 500 millimeters while the central region, Bloemfontein in particular, gets 10-20mm of rain during the winter season,” said Nethavhani.
“So, when we say the central region will receive normal to below normal rains, it means there could rains in some parts while other areas might not get much rains. It’s not expected to be a problem because not much rain is expected in this region during winter, anyway,” he noted.
The limited rains expected in the Free State and the surrounding areas are however not expected to have a major impact on winter farming as most parts received significant rains in recent weeks and most dams are full.
“Winter irrigation will go on because most farm dams are full. Most parts of the Free State received in excess of 50mm in the recent weeks and the northern parts of the province got up to 100mm of rain. So, while rain forecast might be low for the province, agricultural activities are not expected to be affected much due to the improved dam levels,” Nethavhani explained.
He added the anticipated cold fronts are expected to be “healthy” because the rains in the coastal areas and the winter season should be normal.
Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo recently wrote on his website that there were positive prospects for South Africa’s winter crops this year.
“Winter crop growing areas such as the Northern Cape, Limpopo, and Free State, amongst others, will commence with plantings around midyear. This means the weather will again be amongst the key drivers of domestic wheat, barley, and canola prices in the coming weeks, and will also influence farmers’ planting decisions,” said Sihlobo, who is also the chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz).
“In terms of planting decisions, I am generally positive that there will be good activity in all major winter crops areas, as weather conditions have been favourable recently. Parts of the Western Cape received fairly good rainfall over the past couple of weeks, which means that soil moisture is not as depleted as at the start of the 2018/19 production season when the country was shaking off the 2017 drought,” added Sihlobo.