S. Africa Yellow Corn to Pip White 1st Time in 19 Years

South Africa, the continent’s largest producer of corn, may produce more of the yellow variety than the white for the first time in 19 years as a lack of rain in some areas curbs output of white.

The nation’s farmers will probably produce 5.93 million metric tons of yellow corn in the year through April and 5.58 million tons of white, the Pretoria-based Crop Estimates Committee said in a statement on its website yesterday. This will be the first time since 1995 that South Africa produces more of the yellow variety, according the committee’s data.

Some of the nation’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 will lead to lower-than-average yields. Output of yellow corn will probably climb in all except one of South Arica’s nine provinces, including a 23 percent increase in the Free State from a year earlier and 27 percent gain in Mpumalanga, the largest producers, the committee said.

Mpumalanga “had more rainfall than the white maize-producing areas of the North West province and the Free State,” Andrew Fletcher, an independent trader in Kroonstad in the Free State, said by phone yesterday.

White-corn output from the Free State, the biggest producer of the variety, probably fell 14 percent from a year earlier.

“This year it is purely a reflection of rainfall distribution, the yellow-maize yields are higher than the white-maize yields,” Fletcher said.

Forecast Raised

South Africa raised its forecast for production of the grain this season by 1 percent. Growers will probably reap 11.5 million tons of the grain in the year through April, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the committee, said by phone from Pretoria yesterday. This is bigger than the 11.4 million-ton prediction made by the committee last month and exceeds the 11.34 million-ton median estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The nation 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.

White corn for delivery in December, the most active contract, rose 0.1 percent to 2,405 rand ($230) a ton, while the yellow variety for delivery in the same period fell 0.2 percent to 2,248 rand a ton by 9:32 a.m. in Johannesburg.

Summer Grains

The committee decreased the sunflower-production forecast by 1.7 percent to 566,600 tons, while the prediction for soybeans was unchanged at 787,100 tons. The sorghum estimate was cut by 5.8 percent to 154,494 tons and that for groundnut output was left at 42,300 tons. Dry beans was unchanged at 60,200 tons.

Farmers in South Africa may produce 1.78 million tons of wheat this season, 4.6 percent less than the 1.87 million tons harvested last year. The median estimate by three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg matched last season’s figure.

Wheat plantings may cover an area of 525,500 hectares (1.3 million acres) this season, the committee said. This compares with the 515,900-hectare estimate of four traders in a Bloomberg survey and is a 2 percent increase from last month’s forecast of 515,200 hectares. Last year, the nation planted 511,200 hectares with the cereal, the smallest area since record-keeping started in 1931.

Wheat for delivery in December rose for a third day, adding 0.3 percent to 3,443 rand a ton.

The country’s growers may plant 75,165 hectares with canola and reap 113,001 tons, 43 percent more than last season. The area to be planted with malting barley may be 2.4 percent bigger than the last forecast at 81,320 hectares, and farmers may harvest 280,961 tons, 5.7 percent less than last season.

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