Although frost is predicted for the rest of June and July more towards the inland parts of the country, less cold conditions due to climate change can hamper winter farmers, as well as nuts, fruit and grape farmers.
Earlier this month, the first frost was seen on an apple tree on the farm Lowerland in Prieska in the Northern Cape. Bertie Coetzee, the farmer, described it as a very early winter in this district.
Johan van den Berg, agrometeorological at Santam Landbou, says the number of frost days has decreased in recent years, which poses the risk of frost damage later in the season.
The tendency, he says, is less intense winters, cold weather, and frost that occur later than usual. “With the tendency of a warmer earth, temperatures are more likely to be somewhat warmer.”
An icy period is predicted until late July, with minimum freezing temperatures for most towns, which will be beneficial for winter farmers in the Free State.
“It is good for crops like wheat, but also nuts, grapes, peaches, cherries and other stone fruit that have a so-called need for cold that needs to be satisfied.” This leads to a good summer production.
“Many cold conditions also prevent pests and plagues from overwintering too easily,” says Van den Berg.
Heinrich Botha of the farm Mc Grathspark outside Bultfontein says they have had frost almost every day over the past two weeks. “We are very positive and excited about the coming wheat season. The high market prices for maize and wheat also enable us to market well to limit losses. ”