for the winter
By Petrus van Staden
Senwes Senior Agronomist
Boet van Zyl
Senwes Senior Agricultural Economist
SGS Area Manager
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
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
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