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Johannesburg - South Africa raised its forecast for maize production this season 2.5 percent as yields improved, the Crop Estimates Committee said.

The nation, which is Africa’s biggest producer of maize, will probably harvest 13.9 million metric tons of the grain, Marda Scheepers, a statistician for the Pretoria-based committee, said by phone today.

That compares with last month’s 13.5 million-ton prediction.

The median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for the forecast to be little changed.

This year’s maize harvest would the largest since 1981, when South Africa produced 14.1 million tons.

White maize is used to make a staple food known locally as pap, while the yellow variety is mainly fed to animals.

“The reason for this is favourable yields that have been realised during the harvesting process,” Scheepers said.

The committee increased its estimate for output of white maize by 2.3 percent to 7.7 million tons and raised its forecast for the yellow type by 2.9 percent to 6.2 million tons.

White maize for delivery in July fell 0.4 percent to 1,816 rand a ton by the midday close in Johannesburg trading.

The yellow type for delivery in the same month was unchanged at 1,915 rand a ton.

The committee raised its estimate for soy production 5.7 percent to 944,340 tons.

The forecast for sunflowers was left at 853,325 tons.

The groundnut-harvest prediction was kept at 89,640 tons, while sorghum was maintained at 233,220 tons.

The drybean-production estimate was unchanged at 89,018 tons. - Bloomberg News