File image: Reuters

Johannesburg - South Africa, the continent’s largest corn producer, will probably increase its forecast for output of the crop this season 1.6 percent, a survey showed.

Local farmers may harvest 12.6 million metric tons of corn, according to the median prediction of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

That compares with last month’s 12.4 million-ton forecast by the Crop Estimates Committee and is 7.7 percent bigger than the 11.7 million tons produced last year.

The range was 12.5 million tons to 12.7 million tons.

The committee will release its survey on March 27.

South Africa produced 12.8 million tons of corn, known locally as maize, in 2010, the biggest crop since 1982.

Meal made from the white variety is used to make a staple food known as pap, while the yellow type is mainly fed to animals.

“The maize is looking good, both white and yellow,” Andrew Fletcher, an independent trader in Kroonstad in the Free State province, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

“So we should see an increase in the second estimate.”

White corn for delivery in July dropped 0.4 percent to 2,130 rand ($198) a ton by the close in Johannesburg trading.

The yellow variety for delivery in the same month fell 0.7 percent to 2,214 rand a ton. - Bloomberg News