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Agricultural Conditions: Western Cape

07 Sep 2017


Cape Agri-area

Although the development of grains was generally late, the position (plants/sqm.) is generally good. Less than 50% of the average rainfall occurred from April to September; in the lower rainfall areas e.g. Eendekuil & Piketberg, some grain crops has already suffered damaged which unfortunately cannot be repaired. The rest of the Swartland seems quite good, but it is important to note that soil moisture is very low with relatively young grains. In addition, the very hot first 5 days in September has been unfavourable and causes further damage.

The harvest forecast for the northern-Swartland (areas north of Porterville and Piketberg) as well as parts of the West Coast are currently below average, while south-Swartland remains on average to somewhat above average. The rainfall and temperatures over the next 4 weeks determine whether or not the aforementioned crop will realise. There are more canola in the Swartland compared to last year, but with an average to poor emergence. There are some fields with very poor status. The above, as well as low rainfall, contribute to below average harvest expectations. The expected sweet lupine production also appears to be below average.

Overberg- Agri

The current year in the Swartland is not a normal year, with great cause for concern. The first winter rains only occurred on 7 June, a month later than usual. This, together with low soil temperatures, resulted in the current year being about 4 to 6 weeks behind a normal year. The rainfall spread over the past rainy season was very uneven, causing major differences across the region.

The late rain and cold temperatures gave rise to a considerably shorter growth period. In the meantime, spring started, resulting in plants that are now in the process of seed production. The problem is, however, that there is a very large shortage of soil moisture due to the extremely low rainfall. Currently there are already large losses on about 20% of the planted wheat, while 30% are still below average. The rest still has an average yield potential, but rainfall in September will remain critical, else the potential cannot be realised.


Overberg-Agri area

Due to the late onset of the season and below average rainfall, a large variation in the condition and age of plantings exist. Pastures are under pressure and most producers are still feeding in order to keep ewes' condition. Lambs are weaned as early as possible and rounded or sold as slaughter due to the lack of grazing.

Grain over the largest area of the Southern Cape, from Bot River to Riviersonderend/Ouplaas, still has an average potential. The rainfall in September will determine whether it will, or will not realise. Due to the unfavourable low rainfall early in the season, about 30% of the grain's standings are generally weaker than it should be – especially in grains planted early. Grains planted somewhat late is in a good position with good potential, but can only be realised with good rains in September.

SSK area

Grain crops have been planted up to a month later than normal in certain areas as a result of abnormal drought conditions occurring before and during planting (April-May). Relatively good rain was only received in August, which resulted in a weak rise here and there, with crops which experienced drought stress during the yield-determining time of the plant. Crops appear shorter with a lower biomass compared to other years, and the availability of roughage for dairy farmers whom rely on silage and straw from grain producers may be a problem. The past 2 weeks’ rain that occurred, restored crops somewhat although the impact of the drought is inevitable and negatively affected yields. There are many uneven emergence of crops. September's rainfall will determine if there will be a good pit fill that which plays a big part in grading and yields. September is well known as a make-or-break month with continuous follow-up rain remaining vital.

General: Dam levels in the Western Cape are still on average 50% below capacity, and lower compared to the previous year.


*With thanks to Overberg Agri & Kaap Agri for the information