In spite of good rains over the past week and Day Zero being averted in the Cape metropole, Western Cape farmers still need a lot of rain for the drought to be broken.

Carl Opperman, CEO of Agri Western Cape, said the outlook for the winter grain area was generally better than last year this time, but follow-up rain was required in all the regions:

“The Cape metropole received good rains over the past couple of weeks, resulting in grain farmers for the first time in a long while, not having to plant in dust.”

So far, it had rained well in the dry Eendekuil region of the Swartland, with the region up until now receiving 70mm of rain, in comparison with 86mm for the whole of last year.

“The grain is looking good. A few farmers suffered erosion damage, but nothing serious,” Opperman said.

Bredasdorp and Napier had received hardly any winter rain this far and like the rest of the Overstrand region, no summer rain either.

“While the rest of the region has received better rain, the rainfall is still far below the average. Conditions in the eastern parts of the region are near critical. The grain on the western side is looking promising, but it is a month late,” Opperman said.

The outlook for the Southern Cape and Klein Karoo was also dire, with dams still empty and planted crops and pastures not looking good, he said.

The same applied to the Hessequa region, where, according to Opperman, some farmers had reverted to chasing their sheep into dried-up grainlands.

Water levels in the major dams in the province were slowly recovering and looking better than last year this time, said Opperman.

At the time of publishing, according to the Department of Water and Sanitation, dam levels in the Berg River were at 70% of capacity, in comparison with 35% this time last year; the Steenbras Lower is at 48% in comparison with 29%; the Steenbras Upper at 95% in comparison with 60%; the Theewaterskloof at 31% in comparison with 18%; the Voëlvlei at 40% in comparison with 20%; the Wemmershoek at 72% in comparison with 38%; and the Clanwilliam at 58% in comparison with 15%.

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