Maize crop forecast to shrink to four-year low

South Africa’s 2015 Corn Crop Seen Shrinking to Four-Year Low.Photo Supplied

South Africa’s 2015 Corn Crop Seen Shrinking to Four-Year Low.Photo Supplied

Published Feb 23, 2015


Tshepiso Mokhema

THE 2015 local maize crop may be the smallest since 2011 as hot, dry weather in the two biggest growing provinces damages the harvest, a survey showed.

Farmers may reap 10.5 million tons of maize this season, according to a median of five analysts’ estimates in a survey. The range was between 9.9 million and 11 million tons and compares with 2014’s crop of 14.25 million tons, the biggest in 33 years.

The government’s crop estimates committee will release its prediction on Thursday.

Output was 10.4 million tons in 2011, the Grain Information Service said.

The Free State and North West, which produced 64 percent of the harvest last year, haven’t had sufficient rains, according to Grain SA. They needed more than 20mm by the weekend for the crop to recover, with much of the damage being irreversible.

While the consumer inflation rate fell to the lowest since March 2011 in January, investors are fretting that the deceleration may be ambushed by higher food and fuel prices.

Prices have rallied this year because of concern that the drought may limit the harvest this year.

Yellow maize rose for a fifth consecutive week, the longest such run of gains in more than a year. The grain has advanced 12 percent so far this year. White maize has surged 28 percent during the period.

Price increases

The Maize and Wheat Millers’ Association of Botswana, the country that imports as much as 95 percent of its annual maize requirements from South Africa, said on Thursday that customers should expect an increase in the price of the finished product from as early as next month.

The committee will probably leave its estimate for the area of maize plantings unchanged from last month’s forecast of 2.66 million hectares, a median of three analysts surveyed shows. This will be 1.2 percent smaller than in 2014.

The committee may leave its predictions for the output of wheat unchanged from the previous estimate at 1.78 million tons, a median of three analysts’ estimate shows.

White maize for delivery in July dropped 1.4 percent to R2 750 a ton. – Bloomberg

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