South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn grower, cut its forecast for production of the grain this season for a third time as yields fell in the province that produces the largest amount of the white variety, the Crop Estimates Committee said. The nation’s farmers may plant 0.1 percent less wheat this season than a year earlier.
The country may reap 7.05 million metric tons of corn this season, Marda Scheepers, a senior statistician for the Pretoria-based committee, said by phone Tuesday. That is less than the committee’s 7.07 million-ton forecast last month and more than the 7 million-ton median estimate of nine analysts in a Bloomberg survey. It would be less than the 9.96 million tons produced in 2015 and smallest harvest since 2006.
South Africa, a net exporter of agricultural products, may need to import 3.8 million tons of the grain this year to supplement domestic supplies, according to Grain SA, the biggest lobby group for grain and oilseed farmers. That’s after rainfall last year declined to the least since 1904, damaging crops and raising prices. White corn is used as a staple food known locally as pap, while the yellow type is mainly fed to animals.
“There were lower-than-expected yields in the Free State,” Scheepers said, referring to the province that produced 40 percent of all the country’s corn last year.
The nation raised its sunflower-seed output estimate 2.8 percent to 730,500 tons, while that for soybeans was increased 0.4 percent to 694,550 tons. The groundnut estimate was cut 3 percent to 32,550 tons, while the prediction for dry beans was trimmed 0.3 percent to 38,095 tons. The forecast for sorghum output was decreased by 4.5 percent to 88,500 tons.
Farmers are expected to plant 481,850 hectares (1.19 million acres) of wheat in 2016, the committee said. That is less than the 495,000-hectare median estimate by six analysts in a Bloomberg survey and below the 482,150 hectares planted a year earlier. While the nation is the sub-Saharan region’s second-biggest producer of wheat, it’s still a net importer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.