South Africa Raise Wheat-Output Estimate 0.6% as Corn Unchanged

South Africa raised its estimate for wheat production this year by 0.6 percent, the Crop Estimates Committee said. It left the prediction for corn output unchanged.

Growers may reap 1.79 million metric tons of wheat in the 2014 season, Marda Scheepers, a spokeswoman for the committee, said by phone from Pretoria today. That compares with the group’s Aug. 27 forecast of 1.78 million tons and the 1.87 million tons produced last year. It is more than the 1.78 million-ton median prediction by five analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

While South Africa is the sub-Saharan region’s biggest producer of the grain after Ethiopia, it’s still a net importer of wheat, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

“There was an increase in yields in the Free State province,” Scheepers said.

The committee raised its estimate for canola production 5.6 percent to 147,250 tons. The forecast for malting barley was increased 1.5 percent to 317,893 tons. It increased the prediction for the area planted with wheat 1.8 percent to 476,570 hectares (1.2 million acres). Despite the increase, it would be the smallest since 1933, according to data on the South African Grain Information Service’s website.

It left the forecast for corn production this season unchanged from its Aug. 27 forecast at 14.3 million tons, Scheepers said. The median prediction of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for 14.31 million tons. South Africa is the continent’s biggest producer of the grain.

This year’s corn harvest would the largest since 1981, when the nation produced 14.9 million tons, the most since records started in 1936, according to the grain service. White corn is used to make a staple food known locally as pap, while the yellow variety is mainly fed to animals.

The committee maintained its estimate for output of white corn at 7.7 million tons and left its forecast for the yellow type at 6.6 million tons.

The committee kept its estimate for production of sunflowers, soy, groundnuts, sorghum and dry beans unchanged.

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