Heat stress is an abiotic stress known as a rise in temperature beyond the threshold level for a period of time. It can cause irreversible damage to plant growth and development which ultimately leads to lower yields for farmers.
In this edition of Farmer’s Inside Track, Wafiq Essop, an agronomist and technical support and business developer at AfriNat, shares his expertise with farmers on how to protect their crops, from intercropping to keeping your soil healthy.
Plants and crops have been around for centuries and one thing we can be certain of is that they are resistant and quite adaptable. But when crops are vulnerable and the breed isn’t correctly nurtured to survive within the environment, a natural occurrence of too much heat can have quite the effect on crops, says Essop.
“Lots of plants have quite a lot of resistance when it comes to heat. Plants have survived when there weren’t always sufficient nutrients and when the climatic conditions weren’t always ideal. With that being said, lots of plants have quite a decent resistance to heat and if you breed them correctly, they can survive,” he explains.
Understanding how damaging heat can be on crops
Too much heat, however, can be quite damaging to crops. Essop explains that a farmer can lose 25% of yield per day due to excessive heat on plants.
“You can have a reduction of at least a quarter of your yield if heatwave conditions are experienced for a day. It is not like hail or flooding that hits you once. It can have a substantial amount of damage really quickly,” he adds
He cautions farmers to look out for sunburn too, which tends to have an effect on the overall quality of fruit.
When the heatwave occurs later during the day, it won’t cause a lot of damage. It’s when it starts early in the morning when farmers should prepare for damage.
In this episode, Essop also discusses:
- Methods to protect crops;
- Intercropping benefits; and
- Tips to farmers.
Want to know more? Listen to the full episode of Farmer’s Inside Track.
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