Johannesburg - South African wheat futures rose to the highest in more than a year because of low supplies and as the rand weakened to a five-year low against the dollar.

The contract for delivery in March gained 0.6 percent to 3,737 rand ($347.3) a metric ton by the close on the South African Futures Exchange in Johannesburg, the highest for the most-active traded contract since December 7, 2012.

“Compared to this time last year there is very little stock coming to the market,” Ettiene Van Heerden, a trader at Farmwise Grains Ltd., said today by phone from Johannesburg.

“The quality also isn’t as good.”

South Africa probably produced 1.75 million tons of wheat for the 2013 season, compared with 1.87 million metric tons the previous year, according to the country’s Crop Estimates Committee.

South Africa, a net importer of wheat, is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producer of the grain after Ethiopia and the region’s biggest buyer after Nigeria and Sudan, according to US Department of Agriculture data.

South African wheat prices are also supported by the rising cost of imports due to the weaker local currency, van Heerden said.

The rand weakened as much as 0.6 percent against the dollar yesterday, the worst intraday level since October 2008.

The currency has dropped 2.8 percent his year, extending its 19 percent slump in 2013. - Bloomberg News