If you watched the weather reports this week, you would be mostly jumping with joy! The weather prophets were predicting rain for just about the whole of the country this week – heavy rains in some regions. After such a devastating drought who cannot help smiling – hopefully there will be sufficient rain now and during the next few weeks to help fill the dams in the north of the country and relieve the serious situations there.
The drought has been bad and not only affected people, but also animals around the country. There were reports that in our most precious animal kingdom, the Kruger National Park, animals had to be captured and moved to areas outside the park. There were simply not enough water to sustain the populations. Just across the southern border of Kruger the fruit growers of the Lowveld struggled to keep their citrus and sub-tropical trees alive. There the Crocodile River stopped flowing – not only with devastating effect for the fruit, but also for the hippo’s, crocodiles and so many different species relying on this river.
But the rain did come and the Crocodile River is flowing again – and joy is breaking out in the Lowveld. In the north, near Tzaneen, when we last heard, the situation was still critical. Hopefully the heavens will open there too.
[divider]This week’s rain, predicted to also fall in the drier regions in the west of the country, as well as in the Cape where it is not supposed to rain this time of the year, will be greeted by the fruit growers in these regions with mixed feelings. When it comes to harvesting peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and grapes, and it rains just before the fruit is ready to be picked, it causes all sort of problems. When grapes are ripe and get rain, the berries burst and rot sets in – making the harvest a nightmare. Peaches, nectarines and apricots also do not like rain at the harvest time. That’s why they grow fruit in the regions which is normally drier during the summer, because the drier the better and the more tasty and juicy the fruit – as long as there is enough water to irrigiate.
In the Orange River region the grape growers will be harvesting around 18 million cartons of grapes during the next two months. The grapes will be sold locally, but by far the biggest propotion will be exported. It earns vital foreign exchange which virtualy sustain this whole region. It is certain that the whole community in the Orange River wiull watch the heavens with some concern.
[divider]The grape growers in the Hex Valley will not be stressed by rain at this time of the year – their harvest starts only in 6 to 7 weeks’ time. They can get a lot of benefit from some rain now – which will also help them to conserve supplies in their dams.
But we must spare a thought for those who are now starting to pick the fruit which they have nurtured for just about the entire year to bring it to full ripeness. They will be on their knees tonight to thank the Lord for blessing our country with rain to end the drought – and will pray to the Lord to preserve their own fruit.