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South African Yellow Corn Has Biggest Annual Decline

South African yellow-corn futures fell the most on an annual basis in eight years as sufficient rains boosted plantings in the continent’s biggest producer and prices in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, retreated.

The generic futures contract for yellow corn dropped 1.4 percent to 2,048 rand ($241) a metric ton by the close in Johannesburg today, extending its decline this year to 19 percent, the most since 2004, when it decreased 32 percent.

Bothaville in the Free State province, which produces 40 percent of the country’s grain, has experienced good rains this season and further showers are forecast for the next four days, the South African Weather Service said on its website. The nation harvested 14 percent more in the 2011-12 season from a year earlier and farmers are expected to plant 1.3 percent more land with the grain this season, according to the government’s Crop Estimates Committee.

“The good rain we received this year, though it was late, was enough to cover most of the main growing regions,” Brink van Wyk, a trader at BVG (Pty) Ltd., said by phone in Pretoria today. “That boosted planting locally.”

Corn in Chicago dropped 0.6 percent to $6.90 a bushel today, paring this year’s gain to 6.7 percent. While the grain has increased for four straight years, it has declined 19 percent since reaching this year’s intraday high of $8.49 on Aug. 8.

“The U.S prices have also fallen quite significantly after having been high after the big drought,” Van Wyk said.

South African white corn for March delivery declined 0.4 percent to 2,135 rand a ton. The generic contract has dropped 17 percent this year. Wheat for delivery in same month slipped 0.3 percent to 3,495 rand a ton, with the generic contract climbing 27 percent in 2012.

Meal made from the white corn is one of the country’s staple foods, while the yellow variety is mainly used as animal feed. South Africa is a net importer of wheat and sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producer after Ethiopia.

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