Rain brings welcome relief to parched provinces

Substantial downpours over the North West and Northern Cape provinces have brought welcome relief to crop and livestock farmers, with rain coming at a time when it was urgently needed to avoid reduced yields for this year’s summer harvest.

In the North West in particular, rain measuring 20mm and 40mm in the eastern and southern parts of the province fell as harvests were teetering on the brink of collapse because of severe drought conditions.

Elsewhere 64mm of rain drenched parts of the province that had been severely parched.

The downpours were a veritable deluge and follow a warning less than a week ago from agricultural supplier Silostrat that disaster was imminent if it didn’t rain by this coming Friday.

Agri North West assistant chief executive Naudé Pienaar said rain had fallen in most areas under harvest and made a difference to grazing too.

Santam climatologist Johan van der Berg said although the rain was very late it had come just in time.

He remarked though that measurements were still around 50% of what was normally expected and that this would be reflected in this year’s overall harvest yields for certain areas.

In some regions this year’s summer rain was only around 25% of what it usually is.

In the meantime farmers in the North West and Northern Cape are hard at work protecting their crops - some of which are almost harvest-ready - from early frost as cold-front temperatures spread into the interior from the country’s western extremities.

The current conditions of prolonged drought followed by cold and wet weather have also increased the threat of Diplodia, a crop-rotting fungus that could ruin harvests in the end stage if left unprotected against weather volatility.

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