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South Africa: Poor winter rainfall forecast amid ongoing drought

According to agricultural meteorologist Johan van Den Berg, severe drought conditions still dominate large parts of the Northern Cape, and were prevalent in “smaller patches” of the Eastern Cape.

“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 told that 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]." 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.

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