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South African Yellow-Corn Crop Exceeds White 1st Time Since 1995

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn producer, harvested more of the yellow variety than the white for the first time since 1995 this season as a drought cut output, government data showed.

White-corn output declined 20 percent to 5.5 million metric tons in the year ended April, while yellow rose 18 percent to 6.1 million tons, said Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the Crop Estimates Committee. The harvest of white is the smallest since 2007, while for yellow it’s the biggest since 1994, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Farmers produced 11.7 million tons, matching the median estimate of six traders in a Bloomberg survey and 3.6 percent less than last year’s harvest.

“Drought impacted negatively on yields especially for white,” Scheepers said by phone from Pretoria today.

The country’s main growing regions, including the Free State province, which produces 40 percent of the nation’s corn, didn’t receive sufficient rain for crops to grow during the planting period, which BVG (Pty) Ltd., Senwes Ltd. and Farmwise Grains (Pty) Ltd. said would lead to lower-than-average yields. The government of the North West, the area where about 30 percent of South Africa’s white-corn crop was grown in 2012, declared a drought in September.

The nation in 2010 produced 12.8 million tons, the biggest harvest since 1982. Meal made from white corn is one of South Africa’s staple foods while the yellow variety is mainly used as animal feed.

Yellow-corn futures have climbed 13 percent this year and rose to the highest since Dec. 5 today. White corn has increased 18 percent in the period.

Sunflower production rose 6.7 percent to 557,000 tons, while soybean output jumped 21 percent to 784,500 tons, the committee said. Sorghum production declined 8.6 percent to 147,200 tons and groundnut output decreased 30 percent to 41,500 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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