The possibility of a spring heatwave already causes concern

Late snow in the Boland as country prepares for El Niño

More rain today for the Western Cape which has appreciated the few days of sunshine in between cold, rainy spells when bees can finally venture into orchards (where they are furiously working and even ill-tempered with hunger), but producers say they're looking ahead at the possible effects of a below rainfall El Niño summer predicted for South Africa.

Pear orchards in Bo-Swaarmoed (close to Ceres), where snow is not rare, but not usually as late as this year

South Africa had widespread snow the past weekend from a cold front that moved across the interior, exiting now, ahead of yet another cold front.

Deciduous fruit producers in the Western Cape say the cold of the past weekend hasn't caused major damage; plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries and pears are either in bloom or already past bloom.

The snow hasn't caused significant damage visible already, and dams are full, but accompanying frost carries more risk to young fruit.

"We haven't seen major issues because of the cold," says a nursery grower in the Boland. "As long as we get a day or two of sunshine in between we should be fine. I am more worried about the days that get too hot."

Last October the country had an early heatwave over the interior, taxing the ability of farmers to irrigate under electricity constraints.

Producers have been warned to expect a summer of below average rainfall and high temperatures.

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