SA looking at ’second-largest harvest on record’
DURBAN - FAVOURABLE weather conditions were key for the harvesting of both summer and winter crops and, to a lesser extent, horticulture in the near term as South Africa could produce the second-largest harvest on record, according to the Agricultural Business Chamber.
The Agricultural Business Chamber's chief economist, Wandile Sihlobo, said yesterday that the summer crop-growing areas were approaching a harvest period, with early planted soya beans and sunflower seed already being harvested across the country.
“In contrast, maize and sorghum harvesting has only started in a few areas, such as the early planted ones in Mpumalanga. The harvesting process requires dry weather conditions, and the same is needed for crops that are already maturing across the country,” said Sihlobo.
At the end of last month, the South African Weather Service confirmed that South Africa was still in a La Niña state. Its multi-model rainfall forecast indicated mostly that there would be above-normal rainfall during late-autumn (April-May-June) and early-winter (May-June-July).
Agbiz said that, nevertheless, it was unclear how much rain would materialise.
Sihlobo said they hoped that this would at most take the form of light showers, with minimal impact on crops. Over the past few weeks, the weather conditions have generally been favourable across South Africa, with frequent light rains which, so far, have had minimal impact on crops.
He said they had noted that the Crop Estimates Committee forecasts South Africa’s 2020/21 summer grain and oilseeds production to be at 18.7 million tons, up by 6 percent from the 2019/20 season.
“The upward adjustments were on maize, soya beans, sorghum and groundnuts, whereas sunflower seed and dry bean production are lower than the 2019/20 production season.
“Viewed from these data, South Africa is looking at its second-largest harvest on record. If weather conditions remain reasonably dry in the next few months, the crop quality could also be good, which will potentially bode well for farmers’ incomes,” he said
The Chamber said for winter crops such as wheat, barley, canola and oats, the planting period would start towards the end of this month. It said that, contrary to the summer crop-growing regions, the winter crop ones would require increased moisture to support the crops’ germination and growth process. The weather forecast, for now, was said to remain uncertain.
Agbiz said the South African Weather Service recently noted that “a mixed forecast is indicated for the far south-western parts of the country, thus, the expected rainfall conditions for this area are at this stage uncertain”.
Apart from the Western Cape, which typically accounted for two-thirds of winter wheat plantings and most barley and oats, and all canola plantings, soil moisture had improved for various regions of the country following higher summer rainfall.
This should be beneficial for plantings later this month. The dam levels were also in reasonably good shape in some provinces, which should be helpful for crops in the irrigation areas.
The Western Cape conditions would mainly depend on how weather conditions developed from the current uncertain stage in the coming weeks, influencing the planting decisions with regard to the size of area plantings and subsequently crop conditions.
Regarding horticulture, Sihlobo said recent higher rainfall across the country had generally been favourable for fruits and vegetables. The significant fruits that would be harvested in the coming weeks were citrus, with forecasts pointing to a large harvest.