The South African Weather Service has issued weather warnings for parts of the country and farmers are bracing themselves for downpours and dipping temperatures this weekend.
Heavy rainfall is expected in parts of the Eastern and Western Cape on Friday while light snowfall is expected in higher lying areas of both provinces as well as the Free State.
The rain could be a welcome reprieve for farmers in drought-stricken regions of the Eastern Cape, where up to 35 mm of rain is expected to fall this weekend. But the weather service has issued a level two warning for some parts of the province, describing the potential impact as “disruptive”.
“Localised flooding of susceptible roads and bridges as well as flooding in informal settlements can be expected.”
The cold weather is likely to spread across most of the country and to reach Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal by Saturday. “Due to the pre-existing condition of water-saturated soils in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, rainfall amounts exceeding 20 mm are likely to lead to localised flooding. It is therefore important for communities to take the necessary precautions to prepare for such conditions,” the service warns.
Protecting your crops and livestock
“We are welcoming the rain in the Western Cape,” says Andrea Campher, head of Agri SA risk and disaster management. “I know planting season [is] coming up for some of the winter grains. Wet weather is always welcomed, especially in the Karoo areas recovering from drought conditions in the last couple of years.”
She adds, however, that farmers need to keep themselves informed of potential adverse weather events, and prepare as best they can. “Farmers should just be vigilant and make sure that they are informed in terms of early warning systems.”
The National Agro-meteorological Committee (NAC) also provides these tips to farmers:
- Avoid cutting grass in the rainy season as this can result in nutrient depletion.
- Avoid applying fungicides and pesticide (to both plants and animals).
- Provide shelter for animals (young ones can die easily).
- Relocate/move animals to a safe place.
- Be extra cautious for pests and diseases after rain has fallen, as high moisture content and high temperatures may trigger these.
- Assume that flood water contains sewage and might be harmful to humans and livestock.
- Before leading livestock across a river, check whether the water level is rising. This is especially necessary if it is already raining.
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