Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
FARMERS have been warned of impending heat stress on livestock as the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has forecast extreme weather conditions in the country with places such as Lupane, Gwanda and Victoria Falls expected to record maximum temperatures of between 40 and 44 degrees Celcius.
The extremely hot weather conditions are expected to prevail until the end of this month.
In a telephone interview, Matabeleland North Provincial Agritex Officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni said the heat wave was drying up the few drinking points, meaning that cattle and goats will have to move longer distances in search for water.
He said plants under irrigation were also prone to suffer from moisture stress and urged farmers to adjust watering cycles throughout the duration of the extreme weather.
“This extremely hot weather had detrimental effects for farmers and livestock such as chickens risk dying or not laying eggs. Pregnant livestock are at a risk of suffering abortions due to heat stress.
“Dehydration will be high and it is particularly problematic because many areas were affected by veld fires meaning there is no shade and leaves from trees,” said Mr Nyoni.
“At this time leafy vegetables will lose their green colour and turn pale due to moisture stress, even plants under irrigation are not spared, so farmers are urged to reduce cycle days to ensure that plants always have enough moisture to avoid evapotranspiration,” he said.
He urged farmers to closely monitor the condition of livestock at this period and consult livestock officers for assistance if they faced challenges.
The MSD, in a statement this week, advised the public to dress appropriately and stay hydrated during the heat wave.
“Temperatures have been relatively high in most parts of the country from Sunday, October 20 2019. A significant drop in daytime temperatures however, was experienced in Matabeleland South, southern areas of the Midlands, Masvingo and southern areas of Manicaland provinces due to the influence of cool and moist south easterlies that were being steered into the country,” read the statement.
The MSD said temperatures are expected to continue rising in most parts of the country.
“From 24 October 2019, temperatures over the southern parts of the country are anticipated to recover and rise again to lie in the upper thirties for the bulk of the country.
“Given the extended period of very hot conditions (heatwave) the public is encouraged to; stay well hydrated, put on sun hats when working in the open, avoid extended exposure to direct sunlight and take measures to reduce heat related problems,” said the MSD.—@andile_tshuma