White Corn Climbs to Record in South Africa as Planting Ends

  • Prices more than doubled in 2016 as drought killed crops
  • Planting season in western growing regions is almost over

South African white corn increased to a record as the ongoing drought parched crops whose planting season is nearly over.

White corn for delivery in July gained by the daily 80 rand ($5.24) limit, increasing 1.9 percent to 4,324 rand a metric ton by midday on the South African Futures Exchange. That’s the highest in data going back to 1996 and prices have more than doubled this year. Yellow corn for delivery in March lost 1.4 percent to 3,580 rand a ton on Tuesday, bringing the advance to 65 percent this year.

"Some of the maize planted in the west will actually die from lack of water and too much heat," Brink van Wyk, a trader at BVG (Pty) Ltd., said by e-mail. "The window for planting in the western areas like the Free State and North West provinces is quickly closing now, and still there is no forecast for rain."

No rain is expected on Tuesday in towns of Welkom, Bloemfontein and Kroonstad in the Free State province, according to data on the yr.no weather website. In the North West towns of Brits and Potchefstroom, there’s no rain forecast. The two regions account for most of the nation’s crop.

A strengthening El Nino weather pattern is bringing dry conditions to sub-Saharan Africa, prompting the national weather service to predict below-normal rainfall for the next four months.

During the 2016 season, farmers in South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn producer, will reduce plantings of the grain to the lowest since 2011 because of poor rains, according to the Crop Estimates Committee. A drought in the previous season cut the harvest to the smallest since 2007.

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