Poor winter rainfall forecast amid ongoing drought

Poor winter rainfall forecast amid ongoing drought
According to agricultural meteorologist, Johan van Den Berg, the rainfall outlook for the winter rainfall areas ranged from average to below-average for the 2020 season.
Photo: Denene Erasmus

Severe drought conditions still dominated large parts of the Northern Cape, and was prevalent in “smaller patches” of the Eastern Cape, according to agricultural meteorologist, Johan van Den Berg.

“Some rainfall occurred in February in parts of the Northern Cape, but it was very patchy and very little follow-up rain occurred. This resulted in a so-called “green drought”, where there is some photosynthetic activity, but very little real consumable production [in the veld].”

He added that the prospects of further rain during the next few months were very low, and it was very likely that the current drought conditions would persist for at least the winter and spring, and first part of the summer season.

“The current outlook for rain for the 2020/2021 summer is, however, positive with neutral La Niña-conditions [likely] to occur, but it is likely to only result in favourable rainfall conditions towards the end of 2020.”

In addition, Van Den Berg said the outlook for the winter rainfall areas ranged from average to below-average for the season.

“Far below-average rainfall conditions occurred during April and May for both the [southern parts of] the Western Cape [including the Southern Cape region],” he said. This was causing delays for those farmers wanting to establish winter grain and cereal crop plantings.

He added that the prospects for rainfall was expected to improve in the last week of May and the first part of June, which would enable farmers to plant winter crops.

Farmers in the drought affected regions did, however, receive some welcome news. Farmers in the Northern Cape, Limpopo and parts of the Eastern and Western Cape have been able to continue with production thanks to ongoing assistance from the Agri SA Drought Aid Fund.

Engen has now partnered with Agri SA to help drive contributions to the organisation’s drought fund, with Engen undertaking to contribute R1 from every litre of participating engine lubricant sold nationwide to the fund.

Andrea Campher, disaster risk manager at Agri SA said: “The contribution of Engen will go a long way to assist farmers, farmworkers and farming communities that are still suffering from this long-lasting drought. We will work closely with our provincial affiliates to ensure the aid reaches those who need it the most”.