Free State farmers say the harvest of 2018 has been one of the worst production years due to heat and drought conditions that delayed maize planting.

Farmers say food production will be threatened as a result, with the prices of maize expected to spike. They also say the summer grain planting has been negatively affected since October 2018.

Although about 70% of maize planting occurred outside the optimal planting window, lack of moisture in the soil made it difficult for the crops to grow.

Local farmer, George Truter only started planting maize in 2018. He says the past four years have been challenging because of the drought.

“Yes, we are planting late. So, if the frost comes early or on time, it will have a negative impact on the yield. There’s a lack of rain and the ground is dry. We had some rain to plant, but we need a lot of rain to take the yield through,” says Truter.

Free State Agriculture says food security will be extremely affected if weather conditions remain as they are.

“There’s already a shortage of white maize in the country and white maize is not fairly available on the world market. Yellow is available and white maize is not. That is the problem for the food security – the staple food for people of South Africa is white maize,” says Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture.

Farmers hope that during the harvest season they will produce sufficient maize despite the delays in planting.

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