Roots 'n' Shoots: South Africa Climate & Hardiness Zones

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Saturday, 3 August 2013

South Africa Climate & Hardiness Zones

My research is in Agriculture and as a result I am always on the lookout for climate & agricultural maps of South Africa. The government doesn’t do a good job at updating this information and the weather bureau wants you to pay them a lot of money for such info – on a student budget, buying information is unpractical – the university I study at does have their own archive, but it a bit out dated (maps from 2000).

So, I have scouted the internet since 2011 and last year a very nice updated climate map was made available by the CSIR and D. C. U. Conradie, I have posted it on my About page; but here it is again.



Recently I tried to get a hold of South Africa’s Hardiness Zones, and yet again without fail, I seem to turn up with nothing, nada, niks!

Some of my vegetable books from Australia have the hardiness zones of South Africa, since the two countries have very similar climatic patterns. To prevent plagiarism I remade my own based on several sources. Most of the zones coincide with South Africa's annual rainfall patterns.

South Africa Hardiness Zones
Reconstructed visually from maps supplied by
Grow Your Own Fruit & Vegetables the easy way (AUS book) and Food From Your Garden (SA book)
Constructed with ArcGISOnline tools

Just a note on the map above; it is based on the Australian Hardiness Zones and not the USDA. Therefore it requires some clarification:

Zone 1: Hot arid
This region has a low rainfall (350mm per annum) and is very dry. Rain falls during the summer in the north and during the winter in the south. Extended periods of drought are a regular occurrence. Daytime temperatures are 38oC-45oC, with little humidity. Night time temperatures drop drastically and frost is a regular occurrence in winter. Frosts can be severe in the southern regions and occur during late autumn to early spring.
Zone 2: Mediterranean
Zone 2 correlates with a winter rainfall pattern (350-1000mm per annum), usually between late autumn and early spring. Summers are hot and dry with periodic droughts with an average daytime temperature below 30oC. As with most of SA, frost occurs more towards the inland than on the coast. This region has similar climate to the northern Mediterranean and southern California.
Zone 5: Cool subtropical
This zone contains a large chunk of the fynbos biome and the montane forest of SA. It is a coastal region with warm, moist conditions with an average temperature of 18oC to 24oC. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, 750-1250mm per annum, with the heaviest during mid-summer and mid-autumn. Frost doesn’t occur along the coast, but towards the inland and around the mountains during mid-April to early October.
Zone 6: Warm Subtropical
This is an ideal zone for gardens with a hot, humid climate and summer rainfall pattern. Average temperatures are 20oC to 23oC and 750-1250mm of annual rainfall. July to September is warm and sunny with little rain. Night temperatures don’t fall below 15oC – a good thing for growing peppers!!! J Some inland areas experience frost, but the zone is mainly frost free.
Zone 7: Warm Semi-Arid>
Average summer temperatures are mid-30oC or higher. Rain is monsoonal and occurs mainly during summer, 250-850mm per annum, with more rain towards the coast. Extended periods of severe drought can occur far from the coast.  In the northern parts frost is restricted to July, but can occur throughout the winter in the south and can be heavy around mountains.
This is a general guideline to SA and given the amount of season shifting we have experience the last five years it may differ slightly at local regions and microclimatic conditions. To convert your AUS hardiness zone to USDA, simply add 7 to your AUS zone (for example, Roodepoort is Zone 7 AUS = 7 +7 = Zone 14 USDA).

I hope this helps any other people looking for this info on SA! For any of those who want to create your own maps, check out www.arcgis.com; where you can create a free ArcGISOnline account to make basic maps!



Which zone is your garden located in? Do you any specific problems with your climate?



- Update: 13 Oct 2013 -

Warming of Southern Africa linked to the Antarctic Ozone hole

Nature Article - Ozone loss warmed southern Africa
Original Article - Link between Antarctic ozone depletion and summer warming over southern Africa

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4 comments:

  1. I live in Houston Texas and we have what I would consider zone 6 for South Africa weather. I have a friend that is from South Africa that is growing a garden here as well. Would you consider that Houston climate would be comparable to zone 6 for South Africa? I know that he is growing different varieties that are from South Africa that we don't grow here during the season. I would like to benefit from his knowledge to help us understand in Houston how to grow different varieties as well. Thank you,

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  2. The zone 6 around the coast line is a very favourable climate for just about any vegetable & fruit! Especially considering that it is a mainly frost-free zone it expands what you can grow to the tropical & exotic fruit varieties such as Mangos, Pawpaws, Pineapples, even Bananas. All your other vegetable varieties will grow really well, just keep a look out for possible mildew problems on the squash, tomatoes and carrots considering that the climate is more humid (avoid wetting the leaves when watering as well).

    Unfortunately, I am not too familiar with Houston's weather so I would suggest taking a look at MyFolia Gardening Community @ www.myfolia.com. They have many members in Houston as well as an online planting guide for many vegetable & fruit varieties for each zone. I am sure between the community members and your gardening friend your garden will be bursting with produce in no time. Please feel free to browse through my blog as well, there are many posts on fruits and vegetables (including the seed varieties we use here).

    Good luck and keep me posted on your adventures!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just found your site and am so pleased to have found a south Africa hardiness zone map at last. Thankyou.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey hey! You are most welcome! Thanx for the visit & feedback!

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