FILE PHOTO: A farmer inspects his maize crop at a farm in Senekal, South Africa
Durban - South African farmers have managed to produce 10.6million tons of maize during the first eleven weeks of harvesting. The farmers are only 5.03million tons shy of the 15.63million tons projected by the Crop Estimate Committee (CEC) earlier this year.

Wandile Sihlobo, the head of Agribusiness research at the Agricultural Business Chamber, said farmers continued to deliver large volumes of maize to commercial silos across the country, with 1.09million tons delivered in the week ending July 14.

“About 66percent of this was white maize with 34percent being yellow maize. This brought South Africa’s 2017/18 total maize deliveries for “week 1 to 11” to 10.6million tons,” said Sihlobo.

The CEC is expected to release its sixth production estimate tomorrow.

Sihlobo said from a pricing perspective, white maize spot price averaged R1816 per ton last week, down 3percent compared to a week before. The yellow maize price was higher, averaging R1934 per ton and also down by 3percent compared to a week before.

Done well

The country has done well on the export front, despite other countries in the region like Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana also reporting a bumper harvest season. South Africa’s annual maize consumption is estimated to be around 10.5million tons, so this leaves room for exports.

Sihlobo said South Africa exported 82859 tons of maize in the week ending July 14, well above the previous week’s volume of 32699 tons the previous week.

“This has brought the country’s 2017/18 total maize exports to 544874 tons, which equals to 24percent of the season export forecast (2.2million tons),” he said.

South Africa’s record harvest was assisted by the forecasted year-on-year production gain, which reflected a 35percent increase in plantings. It was also spurred by higher prices and anticipated bumper yields, mostly owing to wetter conditions this season.

In the process the forecast of dry and warm weather conditions within the next two weeks could also add momentum to the harvest process, which is currently in full swing country-wide by getting the 15.63million tons estimated.

“The areas that have harvested received exceptional yields and that supports the national CEC view of a possible record crop of 15.63million tons,” added Sihlobo.

Read also: SA to harvest more maize

He said on the global front, the Chicago maize market was down by 3.63percent from levels seen at midday last Friday owing to forecasts of rainfall in some parts of the US Midwest.

“The weather remains a key focus in the US maize market, as the crop approaches pollination stage which requires moisture.

"Unfortunately, the past few weeks experienced persistent dryness and higher temperatures, which are not conducive for crop development,” Sihlobo said.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE