The Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) has released its preliminary figures on area planted for summer crops and its production forecast for winter crops. Some 2,79 million hectares of commercial maize were planted, compared with last season’s 2,55 million hectares. This represents a 9,17% increase in plantings with the Free State making up the majority with 1,12 million hectares.
The breakdown is 1,71 million hectares for yellow and 1,07 million hectares for white maize. A 52% increase in sunflower plantings is predicted, rising to 482 250ha compared with last season’s 316 350ha. According to the CEC the reason for the marked increase in planting is the crop’s high price, R4 300/t, as well as the favourable conditions, which enable an earlier and extended planting time. Both soya bean and dry bean area dropped by over 9%, with plantings forecast at 165 000ha and 45 900ha respectively. ome 47 100ha planted are forecast for groundnuts and 82 200 for sorghum, which translates into increases of 15,53% and 19,13% respectively.
The sixth production forecast for winter crops saw minimal gains for wheat and moderate increases for malting barley. With 632 000ha planted to wheat, a yield of 1,81 million tons is predicted. This is a 2,21%, or 39 100t, increase over the fifth forecast of 1,77 million tons. 5,05% increase over the previous production estimate was calculated for malting barley, which is expected to yield 213 224t. Area planted was 73 360ha. The production forecast for canola remained unchanged at 39 840t, as did the 13 300t for sweet lupines.
Dr John Purchase of the Agricultural Business Chamber attributed the increase in maize plantings to the positive price of maize and the favourable weather. Farmers therefore feel they can make a profit. Although the maize price is high now, increasing input costs will reduce farmers’ profit margins eventually. “With increasing input costs, especially on fertilisers, diesel and steel, it’s going to cause prices to increase further, which the consumer will have to bear,” said Dr Purchase.
Prof Johann Kirsten of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria said this year’s favourable planting forecast is indicative of last year’s good prices. “However, regarding input costs, farmers know what will cause them to be profitable and will adjust their planting in future to match. That will affect supply and ultimately food prices,” said Prof Kirsten. – David Steynberg