Rainfall uncertain in late spring

Pretoria - While rainfall is uncertain in late spring, it is expected to be above normal in mid-summer, says the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

“According to the seasonal forecast issued by the South African Weather Service dated 30 September, rainfall is uncertain during late spring. Towards mid-summer, rainfall is expected to be above normal but the level of uncertainty remains high with marginal confidence,” said the department in a statement on Tuesday.

In its climate advisory for the 2016/17 summer season, the department said mostly warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected during late-spring to mid-summer.

The department, however, called on dryland summer crop farmers to wait for sufficient moisture before planting.

“Dryland summer crop farmers should wait for sufficient moisture before planting and stay within the normal planting window. They are also advised to be conservative in their planting, i.e. planting density/cultivar/area being planted.”

“The farmers should consider drought-tolerant cultivars, including sorghum and maize where possible,” said the department.

Irrigation farmers should reduce the planting area, in line with water restrictions in their areas. “Farmers should follow the weather and climate forecast regularly so as to make informed decisions.”

The department advised livestock farmers to continue to have precautionary measures in place. These include provision of additional feed, livestock reduction in accordance with available grazing land, provision of enough water points on the farm where possible, as well as shelter during bad weather conditions.

“The risk remains high for conditions conducive to veld fires, as the veld is dry in areas with sufficient biomass. Farmers are encouraged to maintain firebreaks and adhere to veld fire warnings. Episodes of localised flooding resulting from thunderstorms are likely and measures should be in place,” the department said.

Heat waves have been reported in some areas and are likely to reoccur. Measures to combat these should be in place.

Farmers are encouraged to implement measures provided in the early warning information issued such as:

  • using grey water where possible;
  • harvesting water during rainy days;
  • scheduling irrigation plans in accordance with water restrictions and irrigating in the early morning or late afternoon and
  • proper veld management practices to preserve agricultural resources.

The department said many areas of the country are still experiencing drought from the 2015/16 summer, although in some provinces, the drought began before then.

“Generally, the veld remains poor [and] livestock is in poor condition but reasonable in areas where there were interventions, e.g. provision of feed and licks. Winter crops are in reasonable to good conditions. Farm dams have dried up in most areas and the levels of major dams are low in all provinces compared to the previous season.” – SAnews.gov.za