Many farms across the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape are covered in snow after nearly 20cm of snowfall was measured on mountain peaks, according to the South African Weather Service.
In the Matroosberg, the highest mountain in the Boland, farmers woke up to a blanket of snow earlier.
In this region, 15cm of snowfall was measured on Wednesday, 13 July with a further 8cm predicted for Tuesday, 20 July, according to Snow-Forecast.
The Matroosberg lies just outside Ceres which is the home of many top deciduous fruit producers. This includes Laastedrif Agri, an family farm that first gained accreditation to export fruit to Europe in 1887. The farm is owned by Rossouw Cillié, a multi-award-winning farmer.
Sheep moved to snow camps
One of Cillié’s employees, Aiden Abrahams, tells Food For Mzansi that farming in the snow is an “incredible” experience. He says, “You’re driving absentmindedly and the next thing your windscreen is covered in snowflakes.”
Abrahams (26), a budding agriculturist, is a graduate from Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute. He is most impressed by how the agricultural sector in this part of the country was well prepared for the cold winters that are often accompanied by snow. “We usually move our sheep to snow camps.”
According to Abrahams, the snow brought plenty of water and Laastedrif has opened three of its weirs for water storage to allow water to flow freely.
“We also have contingencies in place. We have dug trenches and cleaned our roads so that as the snow melts, the water can flow smoothly to our dams and our boreholes as well.”
Freezing week ahead
The South African Weather Service tells Food For Mzansi that most of the country can expect low temperatures for the rest of the week.
Besides Ceres, it also snowed in the Central Karoo, Stellenbosch mountains as well as parts of the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape over the last 24 hours. In the Eastern Cape, road closures have been put in place due to the snow flurries.
“While we do not have the proper technology to monitor snowfall in the mountains, our forecasts indicate that 15cm to 20cm of snowfall has fallen on the mountain peaks,” says Mhlongo.
She adds that cold weather generally poses a significant risk to livestock and crops.