SA: El Niño set to spark an unusually dry summer

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SA: El Niño set to spark an unusually dry summer

South Africa is almost certain to have a rain-starved summer as as the effects of El Niño start to be felt, according to the latest metereological forecasts.

South Africa Weather Service metereologist Cobus Olivier, said a below average range would be less than 75% of normal levels.

"There is a very high chance of below average rainfall and dryer conditions. The certainty of this happening is getting stronger and stronger. We are definitely expecting it to be significantly less."

Fruit growers predicted to be hardest hit by the dry conditions are those with farms in the northeast, which rely on summer rain from December to February.

Citrus growers in the region have said they will take a 'wait and see' approach before taking any radical action such as taking out older trees to save water.

However, grape producers such as Grape Alliance marketing director Leon de Kock, have said a summer with not much rain could work in the industry's favor.

"The dryer the summer the better for us. We don't want any rain on our products."

He said this season's harvest was in line with expectations and would be similar in volumes to the previous one.

"The season looks as if it will be five days late, harvesting looks like it will be what we expected, in other words, normal."

De Kock said his company plans to start exporting it's early Prime and Flame varieties from the Transvaal province in week 44 and from Namibia a week later.

The Grape Company said it was too early to give a harvest prediction and would have a clearer picture by the end of next week after visiting one of the enterprise's earlier producing regions, Orange River.

Regions such as the Western Cape are likely to be less affected by the predicted dry summer as they benefit from rain in the winter months.

El Niño is a result of abnormal warming in the Equatorian Pacific with the potential to disrupt weather patterns across the across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Related stories: El Niño effects still uncertain for South Africa

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