Southern and western Free State still in drought’s grip

While some farmers in the Free State have renewed hope for the season after the widespread rain at the beginning of February, those south and west of Bloemfontein are still struggling.

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A statement released by Free State Agriculture (FSA) noted that the rains have also not relieved the need for feed in the western and southern parts of the province.

Jacques van Rensburg, district chairperson of the Phillipolis area, said the rain was scattered. “Parts southwest of Philippolis have hardly got any rain this season. From one farm to a neighbouring farm the rainfall differs from nothing to 50mm.

“About 80% of the district has had rain, but help is still needed. It did not rain grazing, and the problem is that the effect of the rain on the veld and crops will only be seen in about a month’s time.”

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The map was compiled by Johan Malherbe from the ARC’s Institute for Land, Climate and Water. It displays rain data from the automatic weather station network of the ARC.

Rain also fell sporadically over the Luckhoff and Petrusburg areas. District chairperson Abre Strauss said the average rainfall measured was about 25mm. “Over parts of Petrusburg about 100mm of rain fell, while other parts had as little as 20mm.”

Dr Jack Armour, operational manager at FSA, said the areas still in crisis include Dewetsdorp, Redderburg, Koffiefontein, Dealesville, Hertzogville, Boshoff and parts of Brandfort and Verkeerdvlei.

As part of the organisation’s drought relief initiative about 3 500 bales of fodder has already been donated, of which 2 000 bales have been allocated. “We’re also very grateful for the 500 bales which farmers donated and which they also transported to the receiving farmers. Farmers really opened their hearts for their fellow farmers in need,” said Armour.