South Africa Maintains Corn-Crop Estimate at Smallest Since 2008

South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn producer, kept its estimate for production of the grain this season at the smallest since 2008, the Crop Estimates Committee said.

Growers will probably harvest 7.16 million metric tons of corn this season, Marda Scheepers, a senior statistician for the Pretoria-based committee, said by phone Tuesday. That is less than the 7.17 million-ton median estimate by 10 analysts in a Bloomberg survey and equals the CEC’s May 26 prediction.

South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn grower and 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 records started in 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 maintained its sunflower-seed output estimate at 742,750 tons, while that for soybeans was kept at 728,650 tons. The forecasts for groundnuts, dry beans and sorghum were also unchanged.

White corn for delivery in July dropped 0.3 percent to 4,676.20 rand a ton on the South African Futures Exchange in Johannesburg, while that of the yellow variety for December fell 0.3 percent to 3,680 rand a ton.

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