What was dubbed the coldest night in the country this year (Thursday, 22 July 2021) has led to devastating destruction of crops on farms in Gauteng and Limpopo.
Eric Mauwane, a vegetable farmer from Tarlton, northwest of Krugersdorp, says everything on his farm was destroyed.
“I have been here for four years and normally we get our harsh winters around June. For the first time this year our crops were not affected by cold winter in June.
“They looked beautiful and green in our green houses. But this was short-lived because last week Tuesday we had what we normally called black frosts.”
Mauwane says the black frost didn’t do much damage on the farm on Tuesday. However, on Thursday night the temperature dropped to at least minus 6.9 degrees which caused severe damage to his crops.
“Everything is gone. The farm is completely gone. All the peppers, all the chilies and the green beans are gone. I am currently spending time with agronomists right now and we’re doing the assessments of the damage, but in simple English, I need to start from scratch,” he says.
The South African Weather Service (SAWS) says at least 19 low-temperature records were broken between last Thursday and Friday following icy conditions across the country. This saw temperatures in some areas reach below freezing point on Thursday night (22 July 2021) making it the coldest night in the country this year.
Parts of South Africa were covered in snow and icicles this week following bitterly cold conditions.
Mauwane says he lost four hectares of chilies, but he is not the only farmer in area whose crops were destroyed.
“Around this area just about everyone who’s got peppers, tomatoes and green beans, they are all gone. I mean, I just heard some farmer this morning who had planted sugar peas. He says that they are also all gone. They had 102 hectares and it is all cleaned out,” he says.
Meanwhile, Phillip Kgapane the owner of Kgapane’s Nature Produce in Burgersfort, Limpopo reveals that he lost about three hectares of tomatoes over the weekend.
“When the frost hit us on Saturday, it destroyed three hectares of my tomatoes. This happened on the same day. We woke up and the rest of the farm just looked grey,” he recalls.
Kgapane explains that this whole ordeal makes him sad because they were planning to send their produce to the Joburg market and now they can’t.
Cold front predicted
Meanwhile, SAWS also announced that another cold front could make landfall in the interior of the Western Cape and southern parts of the Northern Cape on Thursday, 29 July 2021.
Damaging winds have been forecast for the Cape Winelands and Central Karoo. Rain can be expected over the south-western parts of the Western Cape in the afternoon, spreading to the east by the evening.
Barend Nel, an agriculture specialist with Farmsol, who mentors farmers across the country, is concerned that the heavy rains in the Western Cape might jeopardise the farmer’s barley crops.
“I actually just spoke to one of the mentors down in the Western Cape at the moment. They’re getting so much rain there and that is putting their barley crop in jeopardy at this stage,” he says.