André Cloete has over the years distinguished himself as one of the first small-scale apple and pear growers to have reached commercial success. Moreover, he has achieved this on land rented from government under the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy.
While Cloete had little livestock farming experience when he started leasing Klein Ezeljacht near Greyton in the Western Cape in 2008, he decided to keep the 640 Mutton Merino sheep that came with the farm to boost his income and add value to land unsuited to apple and pear production.
“Animal production was included in the subjects I did for my agricultural diploma at Kromme Rhee Training Institute in the late 1980s. Before then and thereafter, however, most of my farming was focused on fruit production and irrigation,” recalls Cloete.
Fortunately for him, he crossed paths with a number of companies, such as Novartis and Virbac (animal health) and BKB (production and marketing), that went out of their way to help fill the gaps in his knowledge and experience.
“BKB made a huge contribution to my flock improvement by helping with the selection of animals. They also took charge of the shearing process and the marketing of wool and meat, which was a great help, because I simply couldn’t do everything on my own while also farming fruit,” he says.
The sheep, which have since increased in number to about 1 000, are shorn twice annually.
“I used to shear once a year in August, but last year decided to also shear in February to improve fly management,” says Cloete.
The wool has an average fibre diameter of 20 microns, with the length being generally good but varying from year to year depending on production conditions. He stockpiles the wool that is shorn in February until August, which helps reduce transport costs and gives him more wool to sort from.
“Grain and livestock production go handin-hand in the Southern Cape,” he says.
Cloete initially asked one of his neighbours to help him out with sowing his grain, as most of his time was devoted to establishing and restoring the fruit orchards. The farm had 20ha of apple and pear orchards when he acquired it, and the area under production has since been expanded by 32ha.
“I had to do something on the 280ha available for crop production, as Nature Conservation prohibits planting on land that has not been worked for 10 years. Land that hasn’t been planted also becomes overgrown with grass weeds, such as bristle grass (steekgras), which contaminates wool, leading to quality downgrades, with a major impact on earnings,” he explains.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
These salads are a celebration of summer, and are perfect to have on their own or as a side. They are also easy to make and super affordable. Bon appétit!
North West farmers extend helping hand to hungry communities
Prompted by their own hardship during a decade of drought, farmers in the Schweizer-Reneke area have recognised the urgent need to help unemployed and hungry families in the local communities. Lindi Botha spoke to Jozeph du Plessis about the farmers’ project to distribute maize meal to the needy.
Backgrounding Beef Animals For Higher Profit
Most South African beef producers sell their weaners straight to feedlots for finishing. Chéri-Lynn Steyn, a master’s student in agricultural economics, explains how backgrounding these animals can increase the income of commercial beef farms and even of the feedlots themselves.
Economic Outlook 2021: Now Is The Time To Build Reserves
After a particularly tough year for its economy, South Africa faces many challenges in 2021. Reduced spending power, credit downgrades, and a second wave of COVID-19 could put a damper on agricultural profits this year, and farmers will need to consider their marketing plans carefully. Lindi Botha shares advice from two of the country’s leading economists.
Good Summer Rain Forecast For SA
Weather experts have predicted above-average precipitation for South Africa’s summer rainfall areas in 2020/2021. Meteorologist Johan van den Berg explained the weather cycles and La Niña/El Niño phenomena behind the forecast to Jeandré van der Walt.
Land Reform 2021: Beware Of Fake News
Land reform in South Africa is mired in policy uncertainty and government neglect. At the same time, it is a political football, kicked around shamelessly by some leaders to serve short-term political goals. Glenneis Kriel spoke to three experts in the field to obtain clarity on this crucially important topic.
Managing calf health for maximum long-term productivity
Prevention is better than cure, and this mindset is especially applicable when it comes to preparing calves for their productive adult lives. Dr Schabort Froneman, technical manager for ruminants at Zoetis, provides some pointers on how to raise healthy calves that can become healthy adult animals.
The stories that got us through a tough year
Farmer’s Weekly editor, Denene Erasmus, looks back at some of the top stories of 2020 that not only inspired her, but also served as an example to all South Africans of the remarkable resilience and determination shown by the farming sector during this most unusual year.
SA Harvest: fighting hunger and food waste one meal at a time
Small beginnings can lay the foundation of great success. This holds true for SA Harvest, a food rescue and distribution organisation. Ali Conn, regional manager at SA Harvest, spoke to Jeandré van der Walt about the organisation’s journey over the past year and its future plans.
Diversifying with a new variety pays off for pumpkin producer
The demand for convenient meals and easy-to-prepare vegetables is opening up marketing opportunities for the Hokkaido pumpkin, a newcomer to South Africa. Small, and with an edible peel, the variety holds much promise for expanding cucurbit cultivation. Lindi Botha spoke to Francois Steyn about farming the Hokkaido.