South Africa Leaves Its Corn-Crop Forecast Steady, See Less Wheat Planted

South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn producer, left its forecast for the crop unchanged at 13.32 million metric tons, as traders expected, and said farmers may plant 11 percent less wheat this season, reported “Kazakh-Zerno” NA with reference to the “Bloomberg“.

“Just more than 50 percent of the maize crop has been harvested as a result of delays caused by late rains,” the country’s Crop Estimates Committee said in an e-mailed statement today. The median forecast of 13 traders surveyed this week by Bloomberg was for no change. Corn is known locally as maize. 

South Africa is probably about 20 percent behind harvesting levels this time a year ago, Rudi Swanepoel, a futures trader at Johannesburg-based Farmwise Grains Ltd., said by phone from the city today. “It’s a big harvest, one of the biggest in a long time,” he said. “It will take some time to get it in.” 

The forecast crop is the biggest in 28 years, boosted by increased yields due to largely favorable rains and increased use of genetically modified seeds. 

Wheat plantings may fall 11 percent this season to 570,000 hectares (1.41 million acres) from 642,500 hectares last year because of “unfavorable prices,” the committee said. The average price of the grain so far this year at 2,266.55 rand ($303) a ton is little changed from the average 2,299.33 rand last year on the South African Future Exchange. 

While farmers may still increase plantings from the preliminary estimate, a wheat import tariff of 140.70 rand a ton introduced in April to stimulate local production was probably too late to significantly boost wheat production this season, given long lead-times, Swanepoel said. 

Wheat for September delivery, the most active contract on the exchange, gained 0.3 percent, to 2,485 rand a ton today. White corn for December delivery rose 0.8 percent to 1,198 rand, while yellow corn for September delivery gained 0.5 percent to 1,189 rand.

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