South Africa Raises Forecast for Record 2017 Corn Harvest

July 27, 2017 11:50 PM
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South Africa, the continent’s biggest producer of corn, increased its forecast of this year’s record crop after farmers improved their yields.

Growers will probably reap 15.97 million metric tons of corn in the 2017 season, Lusani Ndou, a senior statistician at the Pretoria-based Crop Estimates Committee, said by phone on Tuesday. That’s more than double the 7.78 million tons produced a year earlier when the worst drought since records began more than a century ago reduced the harvest to a nine-year low.

The committee increased its estimate by 2.2 percent from the 15.63 million tons it projected in June. The forecast is higher than the 15.8 million tons in a Bloomberg survey of analysts and traders last week. The committee expects a harvest of 9.51 million tons of the white variety of corn, used to make a staple food known locally as pap, and 6.46 million tons of yellow corn this season.

The yellow variety for December delivery, the most active contract, gained for the first time in a week, rising 0.6 percent to 2,006 rand ($155.28) a ton, on the South African Futures Exchange in Johannesburg on Thursday. December-delivery white corn gained as much as 1 percent to 1,892.40 rand.

The forecasts for sunflower-seed, soybeans, groundnuts and sorghum output were left unchanged. Drybean production may be 0.1 percent higher than previously estimated at 68,525 tons.

Winter Crop

Farmers will probably plant 498,850 hectares (1.2 million acres) of wheat in 2017, the committee said. That would be 1.9 percent lower than the 508,365 hectares planted a year earlier, below the estimate in a Bloomberg survey for 502,000 hectares. While South Africa is the sub-Saharan African region’s biggest producer of wheat after Ethiopia, it’s still a net importer of the grain, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.

Farmers will probably plant 87,000 hectares of canola, 28 percent more than last year, and 98,800 hectares of malting barley, the committee said.

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