Crops under threat as El Niño hovers

Sustained rain is hoped for to secure wheat and maize harvests.

Sustained rain will be required to secure wheat and maize crops that have been planted in areas where strong downpours have been recorded, measuring up to 100mm in some places.

According to Santam climatologist Johan van den Berg, the next three months are going to prove crucial as many crops are boosted by a growth spurt kicking in 60 to 90 days after planting that, if unsupported by consistent rain, could result in poor or even ruined harvests.

Although farms across North West and the Free State in regions surrounding Schweizer-Reneke, Bothaville, Wesselsbron, Hoopstad and Viljoenskroon have experienced drenching rain, other areas have missed out.

One of these identified by Van der Berg is Kroonstad where rain-starved farmers have been futilely praying for distant storm clouds to head their way.

He said it was a common occurrence for persistent drought patterns to result in some areas receiving excessive cloud bursts while others stay parched.

In recent weeks in Hertzogville in the Free State, for example, adjacent farms measured rainfall that varied from 2mm over the one to 100mm over the other.

Van der Berg furthermore warned that El Niño, the weather phenomenon that disrupts rainfall globally, will most likely have an effect on weather patterns in the forthcoming months.

According to readings of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (Enso), weather pattern disruption seems very likely across South Africa and neighbouring states.

Enso readings done in Australia also show similarities to the ones recorded locally.

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