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S.Africa Raises Corn-Crop Forecast 2.7% to 11.5 Million Tons

Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa, the biggest corn producer on the continent, raised its forecast for output of the grain by 2.7 percent as deliveries by producers were higher than expected, according to the Crop Estimates Committee.

The country may reap 11.5 million metric tons this season, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the committee, said by phone from Pretoria today. That’s above the 11.39 million-ton median estimate of five traders in a Bloomberg News survey and more than the committee’s Aug. 28 forecast of 11.2 million tons. This is the final estimate for the season. South Africa produced 10.4 million tons of corn last year.

White corn is one of South Africa’s staple foods while the yellow variety is mainly used as animal feed. The Free State province produces 40 percent of the nation’s corn, while Mpumalanga grows 21 percent, according to the agriculture department.

“The increase is because physical deliveries to silos in the season were better than anticipated,” Scheepers said. “We had a mid-season drought, but deliveries were higher in the end.”

The forecast includes 6.51 million tons of white corn and 4.99 million tons of the yellow variety, she said.

South Africa decreased its forecast for wheat output this season by 0.1 percent as the area planted in Free State was smaller than thought, Scheepers said.

Farmers are expected to reap 1.762 million tons of wheat in the season compared with an estimate of 1.764 million tons last month. The median estimate of five analysts was unchanged from the previous forecast.

South Africa is a net importer of wheat and is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producer of the grain after Ethiopia. The nation is the region’s biggest importer after Nigeria and Sudan, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Forecast production for malting barley was little changed at 300,662 tons, according to the committee. Estimated output for canola, soybeans, sunflower, ground nuts, sorghum and dry beans was unchanged.

White corn for December delivery, the most active contract, fell 3.3 percent to 2,237 rand ($272) a ton by the close in Johannesburg. Yellow corn for delivery in the same month dropped 2.6 percent to 2,247 rand.

South African wheat prices have fallen 19 percent from a record 4,304 rand a ton in March 2008 to 3,472 rand a ton today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tshepiso Mokhema in Johannesburg at tmokhema@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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