South Africa Seen Raising Corn-Output Estimate on Smooth Harvest

  • Dry weather has allowed uninterrupted harvest process so far
  • Harvesting process is expected to accelarate through country

South Africa, the continent’s top corn producer, may raise its forecast for this season’s crop for the second time as dry weather meant no interruptions during harvesting, a survey of analysts showed.

Farmers may produce 7.17 million metric tons, according to the median estimate of 10 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. That’s 0.1 percent more than last month’s prediction by the country’s Crop Estimates Committee but still about 28 percent lower than last year’s harvest. The range was 7.1 million tons and 7.3 million tons.

“The dry weather conditions across the country have allowed for a good and uninterrupted harvest process so far,” Wandile Sihlobo, head economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Towards the end of this month, one can expect the harvesting process to accelerate throughout the country.” Farmers reap their crop from about May to August.

South Africa, which is usually a net exporter of agricultural products, may need to import 3.8 million tons of corn this year, according to Grain SA, the biggest lobby for grain and oilseed farmers. That’s after rainfall last year declined to the least since 1904, damaging crops and raising prices. White corn is used as a staple food known locally as pap, while the yellow type is mainly fed to animals.

The committee last month raised its prediction for corn output for the first time this season as yields in the Free State and North West improved, Marda Scheepers, a senior statistician for the Pretoria-based committee, said in May.

The country imported 1.96 million tons in the marketing year ended April 29, the Pretoria-based South African Grain Information Service said May 4, making the nation a net importer for the first time since 2008.

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