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FSA warns of fire danger risks following first frost in Free State

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Farmers are hoping for another three weeks of grace against the winter cold so that late crops can reach their full potential. Over the past three mornings frost has occurred in the low-lying parts of the Southern Free State already.

According to Johan Fourie, regional representative of Free State Agriculture (FSA), night temperatures in low-lying parts of Dewetsdorp, Wepener and Vanstadensrus have dropped low and frost has occurred over the past three nights. Fourie says that crops at this stage fortunately do not show any damage.

According to Kempen Nel, FSA’s Letsemeng regional representative, farmers in the Jacobsdal area hope for another three weeks without frost so that crops have sufficient time to dry.

Meanwhile, Dr Jack Armour, commercial manager of FSA, warns that farmers should be aware of fire hazard after the frost. “The good rains of the past season have contributed to good veld and growth conditions. However, the veld and especially tall grass along the roads pose a fire hazard.” warns Armour. “SANRAL has indicated that their contractors will only start cutting the grass from 14 May when no regrowth can take place.” said Armour. FSA therefore encourages fire protection associations (FPAs) to get their structures and equipment in place.

Armour also explains that the late rains that occurred in large parts of the Free State during December and January and that led to flood damage in some areas, had an influence on planting dates. “Many farmers’ initial plantings were washed away or were compacted and had to be replanted later. This has a major financial impact on farmers. So if frost occurs too early and the late plantings are also damaged, it will be a big blow to these farmers.”