Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

South Africa Cuts Wheat-Output Forecast as Drought Hurts Yields

  • Worst drought in 23 years affected planting, crop yields
  • Malting-barley crop forecast raised 2.3%; canola harvest cut

South Africa trimmed its wheat-production estimate for this season after the worst drought in more than two decades harmed crops in the Free State province.

The country’s farmers will probably harvest 1.5 million metric tons of the grain this year, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the Crop Estimates Committee, said by phone. That’s less than the Nov. 25 forecast of 1.51 million tons, and exceeds the 1.495 million-ton median prediction of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. It would be the least since at least 2011.

The driest conditions since 1992 have have damaged crops and livestock and sent local wheat prices to the highest on record. The government has declared disaster areas in several provinces of the country, the continent’s biggest corn and sugar grower, and the nation’s weather service has predicted below-normal rain in the next four months.

There were “slightly better yields in the Western Cape but drought conditions that occurred during the season adversely affected crops in the Free State,” Scheepers said.

The malting-barley crop forecast was raised 2.3 percent to 357,487 tons, while that for canola was cut 3.7 percent to 101,500 tons.

Wheat for delivery in March on the South African Futures Exchange declined 0.7 percent to 4,700 rand ($314) a ton in in Johannesburg Tuesday. They reached a record 4,840 rand on Dec. 11, and have rallied 18 percent this year.

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