Western Cape grain producers are facing another challenging planting season, according to Toit Wessels, assistant manager of marketing and Nampo at Grain SA.
“Due to high input costs and very little soil moisture, the grain industry in the province remains under severe pressure.”
According to Wessels, producers in the Swartland had completed about 90% of canola and barley plantings, but only 50% of wheat. Crops planted earlier were appearing here and there, he said, but pointed out that the warm weather that had been prevalent over the past few weeks were not at all conducive to the growth of the crops.
Andries van der Poll, a farmer near Gouda, told Farmer’s Weekly that although his farm received about 26mm of rain over the Easter weekend, it was still very dry.
“Planting conditions are not ideal at all as the soil has very little moisture.”
He added that in addition to the weather challenges, the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic also hampered planting this year, as it was difficult to obtain parts for implements, due to courier companies not being allowed to make deliveries as a result of lockdown regulations.
According to Wessels, livestock farmers in the area were feeding their animals, and he said that this would place strain on their feed banks if they have to continue doing so.
In the Overberg, canola and barley plantings were well advanced, while some producers had started to plant wheat.
According to Wessels, soil conditions in the Overberg were also extremely dry with little rain recorded so far.
“In this region, producers are also feeding animals. However, the grazing in some parts closer to the mountains appears in somewhat better [condition].”
The Southern Cape received almost no rain during April and conditions were bleak in the Heidelberg/Swellendam/Riversdale areas.
According to Pietman Uys, a farmer near Heidelberg, the planting conditions for the current season had been far from ideal thus far. “It’s very dry with temperatures [being] anything but autumn-like. It feels more like summer.”
He said that he had planted some pasture and barley, but did not consider the emergence of these crops as being as very successful.
According to Uys, all livestock farmers in the area were feeding their animals.
“For now, I still have enough feed in my feed bank, but if the current weather conditions are indicative of what awaits us, my fodder will not see me through. I will then have to start buying feed or thin out my herd.”