South African Wheat Plantings to Climb From Smallest on Record

South African wheat plantings may rise from the smallest on record last year as farmers probably sowed more land with the cereal than last season, the nation’s Crop Estimates Committee said.

Growers will probably sow 515,200 hectares (1.3 million acres) with the cereal, Marda Scheepers, spokeswoman for the committee, said by phone from Pretoria. This is more than the 505,600 hectares predicted by four analysts in a Bloomberg survey and compares with the 511,200 hectares planted in the 2012 season, which was the smallest area since the start of record-keeping in 1931.

The country raised the dollar-based reference price for local output of wheat by 37 percent in April, increasing the level at which duties on imported grain have to be paid. South Africa, a net importer of wheat, is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producer of the grain after Ethiopia and the region’s biggest importer after Nigeria and Sudan, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

“Plantings only increased in the Western Cape due to crop rotation and the wheat tariff increase,” Scheepers said. “There is insufficient soil moisture that could impact negatively on soil plantings in the Free State and Northern Cape provinces.”

Wheat for delivery in December fell 0.2 percent to 3,295 rand ($336) a metric ton by the close in Johannesburg. Wheat prices are at the lowest since July 11, 2012.

Summer Grains

The country’s growers may plant 63,000 hectares with canola, 43 percent more than last season, while the area to be planted with malting barley may be 79,390 hectares, 6.5 percent less than a year earlier.

The committee raised its forecast for corn production by 0.2 percent to 11.4 million tons, more than the 11.2 million tons predicted by six analysts in a Bloomberg survey and compares with the 11.38 million-ton forecast made by the committee on June 25.

Some of the country’s main growing regions, including the Free State province, which produces 40 percent of the country’s corn, haven’t received sufficient rain for crops to grow, which analysts and traders from BVG (Pty) Ltd., Senwes Ltd. and Farmwise Grains (Pty) Ltd. said will lead to lower-than-average yields.

South Africa, the continent’s largest producer of corn, also called maize, produced 12.8 million tons in 2010, the biggest crop since 1982. Meal made from white corn is one of the country’s staple foods and the yellow variety is mainly used as animal feed.

The committee increased the sunflower-production forecast by 2 percent to 576,500 tons, while the prediction for soybean output fell 1.9 percent to 787,100 tons, the committee said. The sorghum-production estimate was cut by 5.6 to 164,069 tons and that for groundnut output was dropped 9.8 percent to 42,300 tons.

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