Late rains damage Cape barley crop

Late seasonal rains that fell towards the end of October in many parts of the Western Cape, a winter rainfall area, have caused widespread damage to barley and grain, with the southern parts of the province being the hardest hit.

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Overberg Agri’s Johan Lusse said the Overberg had received between 75mm and 100mm of rain during the third week of October. The area’s average monthly rainfall is 35mm. Caledon-based barley farmer and chairperson of the Barley Operating Committee, RD Erasmus, confirmed that barley farmers in the Southern Cape had been devastated by the heavy downpours.

“We haven’t been able to determine how much of the 2012 crop will be lost, but it looks as if both the early and the later plantings have been affected. “We expect that as much as 80% of all barley plantings in the region suffered at least some damage. “We’ll only be able to determine what the impact on yield will be once we start harvesting, but the lands are too wet for this still,” he said.

Richard Krige, Overberg grain farmer and Grain SA’s representative for the region, said that wheat plantings in and around Swellendam and Bredasdorp had been affected. “There will be damage, but we haven’t been able to determine its extent yet,” he said. This was confirmed by Lusse, who said that the unseasonal rain had caused widespread damage to grain crops, but the exact extent of the damage would be known only in early November.

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“We are expecting to find a lot of sprouting damage on barley, since many barley farmers have already swathed their crops. But we’ll be able to determine the impact on yield only once farmers start harvesting,” he said. This was echoed by Erasmus, who said that once the barley started sprouting, it could no longer be used in the malting process. “Farmers will be forced to sell their barley as animal feed at an income loss of about R1 500/t,” he said.