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South Africa Plants 3% More Corn, Raises Wheat-Output Forecast

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa, the continent’s largest producer of corn, said farmers probably planted 3 percent more of the grain than in the previous season and increased its prediction for wheat output.

Growers probably sowed 2.78 million hectares (6.9 million acres) of corn, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the Crop Estimates Committee, said by phone from Pretoria. The country planted 2.7 million hectares in the 2012 season. The prediction is more than the 2.74 million-hectare median estimate of six traders surveyed by Bloomberg on Jan. 18, which matched the committee’s figures for intentions to plant released on Oct. 25.

Farmers will probably reap 1.92 million metric tons of wheat, more than the previous forecast of 1.9 million tons, which matched analysts’ median prediction.

White corn is a staple food in South Africa and yellow corn is mainly used as animal feed. The Free State province produces about 40 percent of the country’s corn and Mpumalanga grows about 21 percent.

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 last year planted the smallest area with wheat in more than eight decades as prices declined, the committee said on July 24.

White corn for delivery in March, declined 1 percent to 2,180 rand ($241) a metric ton by the close in Johannesburg. The yellow variety, for delivery in July, fell 0.8 percent to 2,099 rand a ton. Wheat March delivery increased 0.9 percent to 3,670 rand a ton.

The area for soy climbed 12 percent to 529,000 hectares, the committee said. Sunflower plantings probably rose 7 percent to 485,000 hectares, while that for sorghum increased 26 percent to 61,000 hectares.

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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