During the reporting period, winter wheat was growing in the Mediterranean climate areas in the South-west in July to September, to be harvested from October. Summer crops such as soybeans and maize are cultivated in the summer monsoon areas which encompass the eastern half of the country. They are mostly sown from October.
Nationwide, rainfall reached just 56 mm, down 52% from average. The average temperature was 15.1 °C (up 0.5 °C).The resulting biomass is 6% below average, as available water was insufficient to utilize the increased sunshine (RADPAR up, 6% above average).
Only 25% of the total cropland area was cultivated, a 7% decline compared with average conditions, and the likely result of low rainfall and a possibly delayed onset of the summer/monsoon season. Crop condition dropped below the average until the end of the reporting period, especially for cropped regions in the winter wheat areas of Eastern Cape province. Crop condition was just above average throughout the JASO period in 43.4% of cropped area, mainly located in the Free State and North West Province, which are important maize growing areas. 39.1% of cropped area, mainly located in Gert Sibande, Sedibeng and West Rand districts, was slightly below average over the whole reporting period. The conditions for 6.8% of cropped area, mainly located in Overberg and Garden Route Districts, were significantly below average. The condition in the remaining 7.3% of cropped areas was above average only before mid-August, in the northern coastal areas of Eastern Cape Province and adjacent southern coast of Kwazulu-Natal, indicating poor conditions or a slow onset of the maize season. The situation is roughly confirmed by the Maximum VCI map with the poorest crops (VCI < 0.5) in the eastern and north-eastern Provinces (Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo). Overall, the nationwide crop conditions could be described as somewhat delayed and just moderate (average VCIx at 0.7). The final outcome will crucially depend on rainfall over the coming months.
CropWatch adopts three agro‐ecological zones (AEZs) relevant for crop production in South‐Africa. The first zone is the Mediterranean zone, the second is the Humid Cape Fold mountains while the third zone is the Dry Highveld and Bushveld maize areas, by far the most relevant zone in terms of the food supply.
In the Mediterranean zone, rainfall was 2% above average and the temperature was up by 0.3 ℃. Both RADPAR and BIOMSS were above average (+4% and +6%, respectively). This region is known for the wide cultivation of winter wheat. 84% of the cropland was cultivated (single cropping). Crop conditions turned to be below average in August, corresponding to the mid of growing period of wheat. The maximum VCI also confirms the unfavorable crop conditions (0.42), which will negatively impact the wheat production.
In the Humid Cape Fold mountains, the average rainfall was 47% below average and with TEMP 0.7℃ above the average. Both RADPAR and BIOMSS were above average (+8% and +10%, respectively) despite the high reduction in rainfall. The cropped arable land fraction was 69% with a mix of single and double cropping. The crop condition was above the average until mid-August, before it fell below average until the end of October. Overall, the maximum VCI indicated moderate conditions (0.56).
In Dry Highveld and Bushveld maize areas, the rainfall was 65 % below average with temperature up 0.4 ℃. The RADPAR was 6% above the average, while the BIOMSS was 10% below the average. Only 10% of cropland was cultivated with a single crop, and the NDVI-based graph for crop conditions indicated similar conditions to the other two zones; however, the maximum VCI was higher (0.7). The conditions indicate a slower than usual northward movement of the inter-tropical convergence zone, which delayed the onset of the rainy season. If rain picks up in November, little harm will have been done to crops.
(a) Phenology of major crops
(b) Time series profiles of precipitation (left) and temperature (right)
(c) Crop condition development graph based on NDVI (d) Maximum VCI
(e) Spatial NDVI patterns compared to 5YA (f) NDVI profiles
(g) Crop condition development graph based on NDVI for Humid Cape Fold Mountains(left) and for the Mediterranean zone(right).
(h) Crop condition development graph based on NDVI for Dry Highveld and Bushveld maize areas.
Table 3.79. South Africa’s agroclimatic indicators by sub‐national regions, current season's values and departure from 15YA, July - October 2019
|Current (mm)||Departure from 15YA (%)||Current (°C)||Departure from 15YA (°C)||Current (MJ/m2)||Departure from 15YA (%)||Current (gDM/m2)||Departure from 15YA (%)|
|Humid Cape Fold mountains||114||-47||16.5||0.7||1027||8||431||10|
|Dry Highveld and Bushveld maize areas||30||-65||15.0||0.4||1244||6||354||-10|
Table 3.80. South Africa’s agronomic indicators by sub-national regions, current season's values and departures, July to October 2019.
|Region||Cropped arable land fraction (CALF)||Cropping Intensity |
|Current (%)||Departure from 5YA (%)||Current (%)||Departure from 5YA (%)||Current|
|Humid Cape Fold mountains||69||-7||106||8||0.56|
|Dry Highveld and Bushveld maize areas||10||-13||87||15||0.70|