Poor yields reported across SA’s summer crop production region

The majority of lands planted to sunflower in the summer grain production areas have been harvested, according to Grain SA economist Petru Fourie.

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She said in a statement that between 60% and 90% of sunflower in the North West had been harvested by the last week of June.

“The sunflower planted early in the 2015 marketing season yielded very poor harvests. The sunflower planted later realised better yields,” she added.

Joseph du Plessis, a grain producer from Schweizer-Reneke, said that most sunflower planted before Christmas 2015 in the North West had yielded less than 1t/ha.

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Sunflower planted shortly after Christmas yielded about 2t/ha, while yields realised on sunflowers planted closer to the end of January 2016 were down to considerably less than 2t/ha.

“We had on average no more than 300mm rain for the 2015/2016 production season and can’t expect good harvests,” said Du Plessis.

“The problem now is that the moisture levels of the sunflower lands are completely depleted and we’ll need very good rains in the next season to be able to plant.”

Grain producers were nevertheless spared a total disaster by the fact that frost had occurred so late in the season, he added. The first frosts appeared only in June this year; by then all the grain in the province had ripened sufficiently to withstand the frost.

About 60% of the sunflower in the north-west Free State had been harvested by the end of June, said Fourie. The early planted sunflower achieved very poor yields, while somewhat improved yields were realised from later plantings.

The sunflower harvest in the eastern Free State had also been completed with far below-average yields. Some 80% of the Limpopo sunflower harvest has been completed, but yields are below average here too.

The maize harvest in the western parts of SA’s summer grain production region commenced in about mid-June, while the harvest in the eastern parts has practically been completed.

Below-average yields and poor kernel development have generally been reported in the eastern production area, said Fourie.

The soya harvest was completed by mid-June, also with poor yields. – Annelie Coleman

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.