South Africa's 2015 Corn Crop Seen 30% Smaller Than Year Earlier

  • Nation experienced the lowest rainfall in memory in 2015
  • Harvest seen as smallest since 2007 as drought cut yields

South Africa’s 2015 corn harvest will probably be 30 percent less than the bumper crop produced in the previous season as a drought cut production, a survey showed.

Local growers probably produced 9.94 million metric tons of corn last year, according to the median of nine analysts’ predictions in a Bloomberg survey. That’s down from the 14.3 million tons produced in 2014, the biggest harvest in 33 years, and the smallest amount since 2007. While the first production estimate for 2016 was published on Jan. 28, the Crop Estimates Committee will release final output figures for 2015 on Feb. 11.

The estimate was the same as the committee’s last forecast in September and the range was for 9.75 million tons to 10.1 million tons. South Africa is the continent’s largest producer of corn, with the white variety used to make a staple food known locally as pap and the yellow type mainly fed to animals.

This year, the nation may need to import 3 million tons to supplement domestic supplies, according to Grain SA, the biggest lobby for grain and oilseed farmers. This comes after rainfall declined to the least since 1904, when the weather service’s records started. The area sowed 25 percent less than in 2015 and the smallest since 2006, the committee said Jan. 27.

Prices for white corn rose to a record on Jan. 21 as dry weather hurt supply. The July contract price fell 2.2 percent to 4,836 rand ($305) a ton by midday on the South African Futures Exchange in Johannesburg, while yellow corn for delivery in the same month dropped 0.9 percent to 3,585 rand a ton.

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