There is no doubt that climate change is having a very adverse influence around the world. Here in the Western Cape we have abnormally high summer temperatures and in some regions drought has become an ugly reality.
Plants that have been brought in to South Africa from other countries are problematic. Particularly those who originate Australia have taken a strong foothold. There are no pests or insects to keep numbers down, and these plants have for years invaded the natural environment and overrun the indigenous plants. State eradication programmes have cleared large mountain tracts on State land, but it is very expensive for the private landowner. Some people of course do not understand the threat of alien invasive plants and ignore the problem, leading to large tracts of land being invaded and reducing the products available for harvesting.
Pristine Fynbos Veld
In addition, invasive plants which grow considerably taller and thicker than our indigenous plants are the cause of extra-ordinary high fuel loads. So when there is a fire, it is so hot that the indigenous seeds that are stored in the soil or in the canopy, do not survive. It also becomes more difficult to fight such a fire and contain it. While fire every 15 to 20 years in the natural veld is necessary for rejuvenation, alien invasive plants grow quickly and result in more frequent fires. The seeds of indigenous plant species, particularly proteas, that may have survived one fire, will not survive if the fire occurs only five years apart, as the new plants do not bear flowers, and thus seed, for at least another five years.
Therefore we foresee that there will be more frequent problems for harvesters in different areas and for different products. In the current summer months there have been large fires in three different areas. These areas produce inter alia, Repens, Salignum, Brunia and some of the popular Reed species.
Alien Plant Infestation
We will of course do everything in our power to find new sources of product, even if it means going further afield, but we ask for your understanding if some products we have offered, become unavailable, or limited in availability.
As far as this year's harvest of popular items is concerned, Repens seems to be growing well. We may not suffer from the same delay as last year when the crop was a month late, but it is too early to say for sure. The drought situation might result in a lower than average crop of Salignum and Sabulosum. The Plumosum is of excellent quality this year in terms of both size and colour. We do not anticipate a shortage as the area in which these grow has had good rains.