So far 10.6m tons of maize have been har­vested in SA

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Sandile Mchunu

SOUTH African farm­ers have man­aged to pro­duce 10.6 mil­lion tons of maize dur­ing the first eleven weeks of har­vest­ing. The farm­ers are only 5.03 mil­lion tons shy of the 15.63 mil­lion tons pro­jected by the Crop Es­ti­mate Com­mit­tee (CEC) ear­lier this year.

Wandile Sihlobo, the head of Agribusi­ness re­search at the Agri­cul­tural Busi­ness Cham­ber, said farm­ers con­tin­ued to de­liver large vol­umes of maize to com­mer­cial si­los across the coun­try, with 1.09 mil­lion tons de­liv­ered in the week end­ing July 14.

“About 66 per­cent of this was white maize with 34 per­cent be­ing yel­low maize. This brought South Africa’s 2017/18 to­tal maize de­liv­er­ies for “week 1 to 11” to 10.6 mil­lion tons,” said Sihlobo.

The CEC is ex­pected to re­lease its sixth pro­duc­tion es­ti­mate to­mor­row.

Sihlobo said from a pric­ing per­spec­tive, white maize spot price av­er­aged R1 816 per ton last week, down 3 per­cent com­pared to a week be­fore. The yel­low maize price was higher, av­er­ag­ing R1 934 per ton and also down by 3 per­cent com­pared to a week be­fore.

Done well

The coun­try has done well on the ex­port front, de­spite other coun­tries in the re­gion like Zam­bia, Malawi, Zim­babwe and Botswana also re­port­ing a bumper har­vest sea­son. South Africa’s annual maize con­sump­tion is es­ti­mated to be around 10.5 mil­lion tons, so this leaves room for ex­ports.

Sihlobo said South Africa ex­ported 82 859 tons of maize in the week end­ing July 14, well above the pre­vi­ous week’s vol­ume of 32 699 tons the pre­vi­ous week.

“This has brought the coun­try’s 2017/18 to­tal maize ex­ports to 544 874 tons, which equals to 24 per­cent of the sea­son ex­port fore­cast (2.2 mil­lion tons),” he said.

South Africa’s record har­vest was as­sisted by the fore­casted year-on-year pro­duc­tion gain, which re­flected a 35 per­cent in­crease in plant­ings. It was also spurred by higher prices and an­tic­i­pated bumper yields, mostly owing to wetter con­di­tions this sea­son.

In the process the fore­cast of dry and warm weather con­di­tions within the next two weeks could also add mo­men­tum to the har­vest process, which is cur­rently in full swing coun­try-wide by get­ting the 15.63 mil­lion tons es­ti­mated.

“The ar­eas that have har­vested re­ceived ex­cep­tional yields and that sup­ports the na­tional CEC view of a pos­si­ble record crop of 15.63 mil­lion tons,” added Sihlobo.

He said on the global front, the Chicago maize mar­ket was down by 3.63 per­cent from lev­els seen at mid­day last Fri­day owing to fore­casts of rain­fall in some parts of the US Mid­west.

“The weather re­mains a key fo­cus in the US maize mar­ket, as the crop ap­proaches pol­li­na­tion stage which re­quires mois­ture.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the past few weeks ex­pe­ri­enced per­sis­tent dry­ness and higher tem­per­a­tures, which are not con­ducive for crop devel­op­ment,” Sihlobo said.

PHOTO: SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

Maize har­vest at Gour­ton Farm in the Drak­ens­berg. South Africa’s har­vest process is cur­rently in full swing coun­try-wide and es­ti­mated to reach an es­ti­mated 15.63 mil­lion tons.

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