South Africa Seen Raising Forecast for Biggest Corn Crop Since 1981

  • Growers may reap 14.65 million tons this year, survey shows
  • Crop Estimates Committee will update its forecast on May 26

South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn grower, will probably increase its forecast for a bumper crop of the staple grain for a third time this year as yields continue to beat expectations.

Growers may reap 14.65 million metric tons of corn this year, according to the median estimate of three analysts and traders surveyed by Bloomberg. That compares with the 14.54 million tons forecast on April 25 by the government’s Crop Estimates Committee and would be the country’s second-largest harvest on record, only just trailing 1981’s 14.66 million tons. The committee will update its forecast on May 26.

South Africa’s corn harvest is seen rebounding sharply from last season’s nine-year low, after rainfall increased following the worst drought since records began in 1904. Grain SA, a local producers’ group, said last week it projects a 3.6 million-ton corn surplus this year.

“Harvest is under way in many areas of South Africa with yields reportedly well above average, which confirms that we are in for a big crop this season,” said Wandile Sihlobo, an economist at the Pretoria-based Agricultural Business Chamber. “Expected drier weather conditions in the next two weeks will add momentum to the harvest process and also support the late-planting areas.”

The committee will probably forecast output of 8.71 million tons of white corn, used to make a staple food known locally as pap, and 5.94 million tons of the yellow variety, according to the median estimates in the survey. The estimate for the total planted area is expected to remain unchanged at 2.63 million hectares.

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