Phillemon Sithole (Agrometeorologist)

Published: 16th May 2024


Rainfall in the rainfed parts of the industry in KwaZulu-Natal was generally above normal during the second half of the 2023/24 summer season (Dec 2023 to February 2024), despite well below average rainfall being recorded in February.  Average early autumn (March and April) rainfall was normal, except for the Midlands region where below normal was recorded from February to April (Figure 1).  In the northern irrigated areas, above normal rainfall was recorded over the review period except for January and February when well below normal rainfall was received. In March, heavy rainfall associated with tropical storm, Filipo, was recorded in parts of Mpumalanga and northern Zululand. Overall, the industry received near-normal rainfall over the review period.

Irrigation water sources remain well replenished while load-shedding has drastically reduced since March, which bodes well for the irrigated crop.

Figure 1: Regional average monthly total rainfall for December 2023 to April 2024 compared to the corresponding long-term means (LTM).



The El Niño has weakened substantially and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to transition towards neutral conditions during winter 2024. La Niña is the likely category in the coming (2024/25) summer season (Figure 2).

Figure2: ENSO probabilities for the rest of 2024 (issued in May 2024) for each of the three possible categories. Source: NOAA


The South African Weather Service predicts slightly below normal rainfall during the 2024 winter season while the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts both predict near normal winter rainfall for most of the industry. Above average minimum temperatures are expected.

Please visit the SASRI WeatherWeb for the latest industry weather reports and links to up-to-date seasonal climate forecasts.


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