Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

South Africa Predicts Record Corn Crop After Rain Boosts Yields

  • Crop Estimates Committee raises 2017 forecast to 15.63m tons
  • April food-price inflation slowed to 6.6 percent year-on-year

South Africa forecast a record corn harvest this year as improved rainfall boosts yields and helps farmers recover from the worst drought since records began.

The country will probably reap 15.63 million metric tons of corn this year, Lusani Ndou, a senior statistician at the Pretoria-based Crop Estimates Committee, said by phone on Friday. That would top 1981’s 14.66 million tons, according to data from the South African Grain Information Service.

The committee raised its estimate by 7.5 percent from the previous 14.54 million tons in April due to increased expectations for yields in the Free State and North West provinces, Ndou said. South Africa’s corn harvest is rebounding sharply from last season’s nine-year low. Grain SA, a local producers’ group, said last week it projects a 3.6 million-ton corn surplus this year.

The bumper crop could boost the economy, which expanded at the slowest pace since a 2009 recession last year, and help limit inflation. The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for 2017 economic growth in South Africa to 1 percent from 0.8 percent this month, saying that the end of the drought will lift agricultural production. Food prices rose 6.6 percent in April from a year earlier, according to the statistics office. That’s the slowest since December 2015 and helped to bring inflation back into the central bank’s 3 percent to 6 percent target range.

The committee forecast production of 9.47 million tons of white corn, used to make a staple food called pap, and 6.16 million tons of the yellow variety.

The forecasts for sunflower-seed, groundnuts, sorghum and soy production are unchanged, Ndou said. The estimate for dry beans increased 1.9 percent to 68,350 tons.

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