A man harvests maize crop outside Sanaa
JOHANNESBURG - South African farmers are expected to sow 2.8% fewer hectares of the food staple maize next season than forecast in October after the planting season was delayed by rains, a Reuters survey of analysts showed.

Farmers are expected to sow 2.45 million hectares of maize for the 2019/2020 season, compared to 2.519 million estimated last month, a Reuters poll of four traders and market analysts showed.

For the 2018/2019 season, the harvest is expected to be 12.244 million tonnes, 8.6% higher than its October estimate of 11.186 million tonnes, reflecting progress in the harvest. 

The government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) will give its final forecast of the year on Tuesday on what it plans to plant for the 2019/20 maize growing season.

“Although rains were delayed at the onset of the 2019/20 summer crop season, the situation has since improved, which encouraged farmers to plant,” said Paul Makhube, senior agricultural economist at FNB.

In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, Paul van Wyk, a small scale farmer, kneels down in a cracked bed of a water pan in Vosburg, South Africa. The worst drought some farmers have seen in decades is affecting much of southern Africa. The United Nations says more than 11 million people now face crisis levels of food insecurity. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
The poll sees the 2018/19 harvest consisting of 5.61 million tonnes of the food staple white maize, and 6.52 million tonnes of yellow maize, which is used mainly in animal feed.

Some analysts also said that they are expecting early deliveries to be lower due to the later planting season.  

REUTERS