Producers question the 12,35 million tons maize estimate by the CEC

South African maize producers are sceptical about the National Crop Estimates Committee’s (CEC) latest maize harvest approximation of 12,35 million tons.

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Producers said the deteriorating harvest in the central and western summer grain production region would have a marked impact on the ultimate national yield and a harvest of between 10 million tons and 11 million tons was much more likely. Jannie de Villiers, Grain SA CEO said he thought the CEC’s estimate was “optimistic”. De Villiers said the estimate for yellow maize seemed accurate, but that of white maize, mainly produced in the western parts, was exaggerated.

Maize producer Hannes Haasbroek from Bothaville in the Free State (FS) said there was no way a national harvest of nearly 12,5 million tons would be harvested in the 2012/2013 production season. The impact of the widespread drought in the FS and North West (NW) was already evident in the dramatic spike in the maize price.

“The market is reacting to the drought. Let’s say we, the producers, did in fact plant 2,8 million hectares to maize as claimed by the CEC. Losing just 1t/ha leaves us with a loss of 2,8 million tons. This means the harvest could be as low as 10 million tons,” Haasbroek said.

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Prior to going to print, the white maize price had increased by between R50 and R80 per day over a period of 10 days.
Although conditions of maize production in the eastern region were good so far this season, the sporadic rains had caused damage to the maize in some parts, according to Ivan Enslin from Ogies. “We are looking at a harvest of between 5,5t/ha to 8t/ha in the east.

Damage was reported in Middelburg and in Greylingstad and Devon, among others. However, the problem is that we in the east produce mainly yellow maize while white maize is produced in the west, which could have an impact on the national white maize supply. Given the conditions in the FS and NW, I do not believe we will realise a harvest of more than 11,5 million tons,” Enslin said.

John Rankin from Lichtenburg said large areas in NW had suffered so much damage that producers wouldn’t be able to harvest. “I have lost total harvest on 20% of my lands which, coupled with the damage to the rest of the maize, brought my ultimate yield down to some 2t/ha,” Rankin said. nA representative of the SA Grain Information Service said the approximation was made based on the information available at the time and any new information would be considered in the next estimate.