South Africa Cuts Corn-Crop Forecast; to Reap Least Since 2006

  • Yellow-corn production to exceed that of white, committee says
  • Rains that fell were too late to turn around crop outlook

South Africa will probably reap the smallest corn harvest in a decade this year after the country suffered the lowest rainfall since records began because of the global El Nino weather pattern.

Growers will probably produce 7.07 million metric tons of corn in the season that ends in April, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the nation’s Crop Estimates Committee, said by phone Wednesday. That’s 29 percent less than the 9.96 million tons in the previous season and is less than the 7.1 million-ton median prediction by 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The figure is also smaller than last month’s prediction of 7.26 million tons.

South Africa, the continent’s largest producer of corn, may need to import 3.8 million tons this year to bolster domestic supplies, according to Grain SA, the biggest lobby group for farmers of the staple food. That’s after rainfall last year declined to the least since 1904, when the weather service’s records began. White corn is used as to make a porridge known locally as pap, while the yellow type is mainly fed to animals.

“Unfavorable production conditions” affected the prediction, Scheepers said. “Rainfall that should have been realized didn’t realize across the board. The rain that did come was too late to cause a turnaround.”

The committee raised its sunflower-production forecast for the year by 3.4 percent to 710,500 tons from its February estimate, and trimmed its soybean-harvest outlook 4.5 percent to 691,750 tons. 

The groundnut-output prediction was cut 1.7 percent to 33,550 tons, while that for dry beans was reduced 13 percent to 38,195 tons. The sorghum outlook was lowered 0.8 percent to 92,700 tons.

The committee cut its estimate for white-corn output by 3.9 percent to 3.07 million tons, and trimmed its outlook for the yellow variety by 1.6 percent to 3.99 million tons.

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