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Almost every Sunday afternoon I make a couple of phone calls to a number of farmers across the country to catch up on regional news and agricultural conditions. This past weekend I followed that routine, with a number of farmers briefing me about summer crop harvest progress. Feedback from Western Cape folks indicated an appreciation for heavy rains, which according to the South African Weather Service might be more frequent over the next three months. The Eastern Cape farmers brought to my attention something I have not been thinking about of late – the possible expansion of winter wheat plantings to new regions in the country. Victor Mongoato, who farms in Matatiele, together with associates in Ugie and Maclear in the Eastern Cape, are preparing field trials for various dryland winter wheat cultivars. Mongoato says they are starting the trials "in one of the best seasons, with high soil moisture following good summer rainfall, and there is a good chance for snow and light showers ...

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