Winter is upon us with colder, drier weather in the summer rainfall regions and the winter rains starting in the Western Cape. War in the Ukraine has had some serious consequences for farmers with frightening price increases in animal feed, fuel and fertiliser. But farmers are survivors, capable of making and implementing the type of decisions to get through the harshest of winters.
Happy Mpshe, Jericho, Brits, North West
We are about to harvest our sunflower crop in a few weeks. We don’t have our own equipment so we are looking at quotes from a few contractors. Not having your own machinery is a challenge because it increases your costs and eats away at your profits.
Right now we are taking precautions to make sure we keep pre-harvest losses to a minimum. These losses are caused mainly by birds and wild animals like warthogs which can crawl under the electric fence. We go to the lands to inspect the crop regularly and find creative ways to deal with especially the birds.
The warthogs don’t cause a lot of damage as they just trample the crop, they don’t eat it, but the birds eat the sunflower seeds, causing a lot of damage that leads to serious losses. Due to this and other challenges such as poor growth on other parts of the farm because of weeds, we’ve estimated that we will lose about 10ha, which is a lot.
But we are still paying school fees as this is our first sunflower crop. We are also busy cleaning and de-bushing an additional 40ha so that we can plant 100ha in the next planting season. This time we will plan ahead with some experience and avoid making the same mistakes.