Senwes Scenario June / July 2019 - Page 31

AGRICULTURAL Branch manager Lourens Brand. Agricultural tips for the winter  By Petrus van Staden Senwes Senior Agronomist Boet van Zyl Senwes Senior Agricultural Economist Ian Bothma SGS Area Manager UNIQUE EVENTS Lightning set 12 heaps of wheat alight at the current store in 1979. Many tons of wheat burnt down to the ground. The silo is also the one where the most red dust occurs. Former silo manager, André Barnardt photographed it in 1979, with an old steam train in the foreground. The silo is also the first silo in the world to have han- dled one and a half times its capacity in one season, with the same product. To be exact, the silo was 165% full. As fast as grain was taken in on the one side, it was outloaded on the other side. It could not be traded at the same rate and had to be moved to other Senwes silos. A few times thereafter, an additional 60 000 tons of wheat and 20 000 tons of maize were taken in. Speaking of the centre ... did you know that once upon a time Emmaus had a railway station with a cafe and a post office? CELEBRITIES FROM THE MIDDLE Top of the list is the famous writer Maretha Maartens, who grew up in Petrusburg. Writer, poet and economist Pieter Haasbroek is another one. Radio personality Johrné van Huyssteen also makes no secret of the fact that he hails from this area. Dr Theo Alant was a deputy minister in the cabinet and Sarel Reinecke was the first Petrusburg resident who was elected as MP. AJC Jooste, whom the school was named after, had a 70-year association with agriculture, the school and community. During our visit we popped in at the old age home for a visit with former director of Senwes, Johan Delport. As far as churches go, everyone knows the Reformed and Dutch Reformed churches, with their steeples vis- ible from the N8. The area is a well-known potato-pro- ducing area and the potato festival is held here. We all know the old Afrikaans song So ry die trein, so ry die trein, die Kimberley se trein. Old people will remember the passenger train steaming into the Petrusburg station at exactly 11:00. Well done Petrusburg! Keep on spreading your wings from the centre of SA. THE COURSE OF the past season was unpredictable in more than one respect and reflected the extremes of many years. The rain came late initially. Late December 2019 and January 2019 were characterised by very high temperatures. Planting was late in general. Rain at the beginning of February saved a number of plantings. General indications were that the yield would possibly be lower than the LAY due to late planting dates and high temperatures. Although the first frost occurred middle April in various districts, there was no damage. The occurrence of frost may be delayed due to the rain. The rain at the end of April was the highest in many years. Various rivers and dams overflowed. Hail damage was observed. In addition to fields being very wet, damage due to water erosion also occurred. A few principles to bear in mind for the coming season The soaking rain during April could have the following impact: • Wet soil could hamper the harvesting process. • Should tillage practices have been implemented for water saving purposes, the profile of most of the soil should be fairly close to the upper limit of drained water. It therefore decreases the risk for the coming summer production season. • Indications for the winter season are that wheat plantings will be significant. Alternatives to consider are early sunflower or cover crops with a view to rounding off of weaners. Follow-up rain within the next month or three should also be borne in mind. Should this happen, a full soil profile should still be available in December for the planting of maize. • Vehicles/implements on wet soil will aggravate soil compaction. • The large volumes of water moving through the soil, should physically compress the soil. • The leaching of water through the soil profile, lowers the pH and results in nutrients being lost. Should the latter end up in ground water, the quality of borehole water will decline. • Standing water in fields will results in immediate lack of oxygen, which could result in lower yields. It also results in toxic concentrations of nitrite and nitrate nitrogen Should the latter dissolve in ground water near the soil surface, it will convert to atmospheric nitrogen and be lost. Precision chemical analyses are a good investment for the coming season. The analysis of nitrogen fractions in the soil is also recommended. In respect of grazing, the rain came a bit late to ensure quality and quantity for the winter. Producers must do a thorough evaluation and make the necessary adjustments for sustained production. SENWES SCENARIO | WINTER 2019 29