Crops wither in dry, hot weather
These unseasonal cirrus clouds in the sky over the northern Free State and North West are typical of dry El Niño years. Despite good pre-season rains in the western grain-producing regions of South Africa, a dry mid-season accompanied by very high temperatures and high winds are placing crops under stress.
This maize field outside Bothaville shows clear indications of drought stress as leaves close up to reduce transpiration before they eventually start to die back, as can be seen on the plants in the foreground. – Words and photo: Johan Steyn