Summer grain crops lower in latest crop forecast

The Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) has set the expected size of the commercial maize crop at 7, 065 million tons, which is 2,63% or 190 475t less than the previous forecast of 7,256 million tons.

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The downward revision comes as a result of the on-going drought in the western and central parts of the Free State, as well as in the western and northern parts of the North West. The area estimate for maize decreased by 0,97% or 19 000ha to 1,947 million hectares.

The estimate is within market expectations, but is likely to be revised downwards again due to the lack of rain, said Grain SA economist Wandile Sihlobo. In addition, early frost in parts of the Free State is increasing the risk of damage to late maize plantings.

The CEC released the following figures:

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  • White maize production: 3,071 million tons, 3,92% or 125 125 tons less than the 3,196 million tons of the previous forecast. Yield: 3,03t/ha.
  • Yellow maize production: 3,995 million tons, 1,61% or 65 350 tons less than the 4,060 million tons of the previous forecast. Yield: 4,29t/ha.
  • Sunflower: 710 500t, 3,40% or 23 350t more than the 687 150t of the previous forecast. The area estimate for sunflower seed was increased to 718 500ha, while the expected yield is 0, 99t/ha.
  • Soybeans: 691 750t, 4,53% or 32 850t less than the previous 724 600t.
  • Groundnuts: 33 550t, 1,67% or 570t less than the 34 120t of the previous forecast. 

The CEC also expects dry bean production to decline. The production forecast is 38 195t, 13,38% or 5 900t lower than the previous forecast of 44 095t. Sorghum production will be 700t lower than the previous 93 400t. The area estimate remains unchanged at 48 500ha and the projected yield is 1,91t/ha.

Sihlobo said if the CEC’s estimates remain unchanged, South Africa would have to import 3.8 million tons of white maize and 2.7 million tons of yellow maize: “We are still uncertain about where this maize would come from but our initial expectations are Mexico and the US.”