Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

South African White Corn Exceeds 5,000 Rand, Rising to Record

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White-corn futures in South Africa, the continent’s biggest producer of the grain, exceeded 5,000 rand ($298) a metric ton for the first time, climbing to the highest on record as the driest weather in more than a century hurts production.

White corn for delivery in July climbed 2.5 percent to 5,020 rand a ton on the South African Futures Exchange in Johannesburg, the highest level since trading started on the bourse in August 1996.

The price “reflects the severe shortage of maize facing South Africa for the next 16 months,” Brink van Wyk, a trader at BVG (Pty) Ltd., said by e-mail. Corn is known as maize locally. “The fact that the market is still unsure about the true cost of imported white maize is making matters worse.”

The El Nino phenomenon caused the least rainfall since 1904 last year, boosting prices. The government’s Crop Estimates Committee in October said the nation’s growers will probably sow the smallest area with the grain since 2011. Since then, many parts of South Africa have experienced record temperatures and little rain, making the country a net importer of corn for the first time since the 2008 season.

Since then, many parts of South Africa have experienced record temperatures and seen little rain, making it a net importer of corn for the first time since the 2008 season. The nation will probably need to import 5 million to 6 million tons of corn in the 2016-17 season, Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana told reporters Jan. 15.

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