Maize harvest progressing slowly due to late plantings

Maize harvesting in the western part of South Africa’s summer grain production region was progressing slowly, according to Grain SA economist Petru Fourie.

This was mainly as a result of late plantings due to drought conditions during the peak planting season at the end of 2017 and the beginning of this year.

Rain later in the season resulted in the maize plants retaining moisture longer, she said.

“The late harvesting also had an indirect impact on farming concerns, which included livestock [operations]. The access to maize stover for animals had been markedly limited given the fact that the preparation of maize fields for the 2018/2019 season needed to commence shortly.”

Nearly 70% of the maize harvest in North West had been completed by 3 August. It was estimated that the harvest would be completed by the third week of the month, according to a Grain SA survey.

The province’s producers experienced problems with low-grade grain, while their counterparts in the western Free State had realised average yields so far.

However, vast areas, with a moisture content of as much as 18%, were still too wet to harvest, the report said.

According to Fourie, some agribusinesses accepted grain with a14% moisture content, which was relatively high.

Limited drying facilities meant that large volumes of the 2017/2018 season’s harvest would be delivered late. Only 20% of the maize in the Ladybrand/Clocolan area had been harvested, while up to 80% had been harvested in the Frankfort/Reitz districts.

The harvest in Mpumalanga had been completed and good had been yields realised.

Average yields were, however, realised in KwaZulu-Natal, where the harvest had also been completed.