Phillemon Sithole

Published: 17th Jan 2024


Industry average rainfall for the review period (August to December 2023) was above normal despite heightened fears of a dry summer due to the existing El Niño conditions as reported in the September 2023 issue of The Link. While below average rainfall was recorded for August, September and November in the rainfed areas of KwaZulu-Natal (Fig 1), well above normal rainfall in October and December ensured that overall crop status remained good. In the northern irrigated areas, rainfall was also generally good and irrigation water supplies adequate. As reported previously, load shedding remains a threat in the irrigated areas.

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



The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions remain in a strong El Niño state, which is expected to persist through the remainder of the 2023/24 summer and autumn 2024.  There is uncertainty over the impact of this on the typically anticipated drier conditions over the eastern parts of the country covering the sugarcane growing regions. Due to this uncertainty, strategies that promote soil water conservation continue to be advised.

The South African Weather Service and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society predict near to above-normal rainfall for the late summer to early autumn months (February to April 2024) for most of the industry, while and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast predicts slightly below normal rainfall. Above average minimum and maximum 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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