South Africa Cuts 2016 Wheat Crop Forecast Due to Lower Yields

  • Soybean output forecast raised as harvest to be biggest yet
  • Corn crop seen as smallest since 2007 even as estimate raised

South Africa cut its forecast for wheat production by 3.3 percent for this season as poor conditions in the biggest growing region reduced yields, the Crop Estimates Committee said.

Local growers may reap 1.64 million metric tons in the 2015 season, Marda Scheepers, a senior statistician for the Pretoria-based committee, said by phone Tuesday. This is less than the 1.67 million-ton median estimate by five analysts in a Bloomberg survey and smaller than the CEC’s August prediction of 1.69 million tons. This would be the smallest harvest since the 2011 season.

"The drop is due to a decrease in expected yields in the Western Cape because of poor production conditions,” Scheepers said.

While South Africa is the sub-Saharan region’s biggest producer of wheat after Ethiopia, it’s still a net importer, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

The committee trimmed its forecast for canola production by 5.9 percent to 105,400 tons and raised the prediction for malting-barley output by 3.9 percent to 347,083 tons. 

Corn Increased

The committee raised its forecast for corn output by 1.1 percent to 9.9 million tons. That’s more than the 9.85 million-ton median prediction of six analysts in a Bloomberg survey and is higher than the CEC’s 9.84 million-ton estimate last month. This would be the smallest crop since 2007, when the nation produced 7.13 million tons.

South Africa is the continent’s biggest producer of the grain. The harvest in the main growing provinces of the Free State and North West, which together contributed 64 percent of the nation’s crop in 2014, didn’t receive enough rain during planting. The country started imports for the first time in 11 months in March as the worst drought since 1992 damaged plants.

The committee increased the estimate for soybean output by 1.8 percent to 1.06 million tons, the largest crop on record. It raised forecasts for sunflower and sorghum production and left those for groundnuts and dry beans unchanged.

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