Poor grain yields in the summer grain production areas

Producers in the summer grain production areas have started harvesting the 2012/2013 grain crop, but yields were fluctuating dramatically from region to region.

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John Ranking from Lichtenburg in Northwest said yields were exceptionally low in the area, following the drought that hit the western regions of SA during the production season.

“Farmers have been harvesting soya beans for the better part of a month and yields do not exceed half a ton per hectare on average. Sunflower harvesting is in full swing and the yields are between 1,5t/ha and 2t/ha. On my farm I have not realised a maize yield of more than 1,5t/ha. The maize grade is also particularly poor because of underdeveloped and small maize kernels,” Rankin said.

The situation is not much different in the Free State, according to Jaco Minnaar from Hennenman. He said the Free State soya bean harvest was a total disaster. Sunflowers did not fare much better and it did not seem as if the average yield would be much more than one ton per hectare. “I have just started the maize harvest and so far have not harvested more than half a ton per ha. There are parts of the province where maize yields of 6t/ha and 7t/ha were reported. This follows the sporadic rains we experienced in the production season,” Minnaar said.

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He was also worried about grazing for livestock this winter. Minnaar said grazing was virtually depleted and the maize stover supply has been severely limited by the drought. “In a normal year I can keep my cattle on a maize stover land for more than a month, but the maize is in such a poor condition this year that the herd will finish the stover in about a week’s time,” he said.

Conditions seemed considerably better in the eastern Free State. Willie Linde from Frankfort guesstimated that nearly 40% of the soya bean in Frankfort and adjacent districts have been harvested with a yield of between 1,5t/ha and 2t/ha. It is too early to say yet, but a maize yield of 4t/ha and more was not unlikely, according to Linde.

More than 70% of the soya bean harvest in the vicinity of Ogies in Mpumalanga has been completed, according to local grain producer, Ivan Enslin. Maize yields were very promising, Enslin said. “Although harvesting has just begun, the lowest yield so far was about 4,5t/ha.” Yields of more than 10t/ha for rainfed maize were achieved in the Leslie area.