Petru Fourie, agricultural economist at Grain SA, said that these preliminary maize planting estimates should be seen in a positive light given that the October 2013 intentions to plant maize were actually 0,95% or 25 000ha lower than what was so far believed to have been planted.
Preliminary estimated plantings for soya beans stand at 516 000ha, 0,1% less than the 516 500ha of the 2012/13 season. Fourie said this small difference may have been due to poor price signals for soya during the October 2013 planting period. Soya price signals have subsequently improved.
The CEC’s Rodney Dredge revealed significant increases in preliminary plantings of other summer crops. Some 618 400ha (22,53%) more sunflowers were believed to have been planted in comparison to 2012/2013’s 504 700ha.
This was due to the crop’s relative good profitability during planting time, said Fourie.
The 50 000ha estimate for groundnuts, meanwhile, was 6,61% more than the 46 900ha planted the previous season. Fourie pointed out that the weaker rand was favourable for national groundnut prices and exports.
The estimate for sorghum increased by 19,29%, from 62 620ha to 74 700ha, said Dredge.
Fourie explained that this was largely driven by regulations for the mandatory blending of biofuels with petrol and diesel due to come into effect from 1 October 2015. An additional 620 000t of sorghum would be required to meet the 2% biofuels blending rate.
For dry beans the estimate is 56 170ha, 28,98% higher than the 43 550ha planted the previous season.
First production estimate figures for 2013/14 summer crops will be released on 27 February.