South Africa May Produce 39% Less Corn in 2015-16 Season: Survey

  • Planting this season probably 37% below farmers' earlier plans
  • Country hit by shortage of rain due to El Nino weather pattern

South Africa, the largest corn producer on the continent, may harvest 39 percent less of the grain in the 2015-16 season than a year earlier after the country suffered the lowest rainfall since records began because of the global El Nino weather pattern.

Growers will probably produce 6.1 million metric tons of corn in the season, according to the median estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s down from the 9.9 million tonsin the previous season expected by the nation’s Crop Estimates Committee. The range of forecasts was 5.5 million to 7.5 million tons in the survey carried out before the estimates panel is due to release its first production outlook for 2015-16 on Jan. 27.

South Africa probably sowed corn on 1.6 million hectares (4 million acres) this season ending April 2016, 37 percent less than farmers had planned, the median estimate of six of the analysts showed. The country planted 2.65 million hectares the previous year. 

Prices for white corn, used to make a staple food known as pap, rose to a record Jan. 18 as dry weather hurt supply. South Africa will probably need to import about 5 million tons of corn in the year to April 2017 as the Free State and North West provinces, producers of 64 percent of 2014’s crop, lacked rain, according to Grain SA, the biggest farm lobby. 

Farmers may cut their wheat production estimate by 0.3 percent to 1.495 million tons this season, according to the median of four of the analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.