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South Africa Raises Wheat-Crop Forecast 6.2% as Yields Improve

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Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa increased its forecast for wheat output by 6.2 percent as yields in key growing regions improved, the country’s Crop Estimates Committee said.

Farmers may produce 1.9 million metric tons of wheat, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the committee, said by phone from Pretoria. That’s more than the committee’s previous estimate of 1.78 million tons and higher than the median prediction of 1.8 million tons by five traders surveyed by Bloomberg News on Dec. 13.

“Harvesting is almost finished and the yields are very good,” Baldwin Netshifhefhe, the committee principal statistician, said by phone from Pretoria.

South Africa is a net importer of wheat and 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. Farmers this season planted the smallest area with wheat in more than eight decades as prices declined, the committee said on July 24.

Wheat for delivery in March, the most active contract, fell 0.8 percent to 3,567.20 rand ($419) a ton by the close on the South African Futures Exchange in Johannesburg.

The committee lowered its forecast for output of malting barley 2.6 percent to 286,380 tons and raised its estimate for canola production 21 percent to 84,275 tons.

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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