It appears that next year may be another favourable season for South African grain farmers in summer rainfall areas – the rainy season has started two to three weeks early.
Anthony Clark, market analyst at Vuyani Securities, says soil moisture levels in key production areas like the North West and Free State provinces, and to some extent Mpumalanga, are much improved compared to 2015 and 2016. This allows for soil preparation to start.
He says prospects are good for a production increase following the country’s largest maize harvest to date in the 2017 season. The expectation is that roughly the same number of hectares will be planted in the next season, although less farmers can plant due to this year’s low maize prices.
Renewed record production may result in producer prices remaining low for a long period, which should benefit the animal feed and poultry sectors. This season’s maize surplus is estimated to be around 4 million tons and about 1.4 million tons have been exported to date.
This makes up about 64% of the predicted 2.2 million tons of maize that will be exported for the year and is made up of 66% yellow maize and 34% white maize.
The optimal time for planting soya beans in the KwaZulu-Natal province has already started, but heavy rainfall has delayed the process. It is not a reason for serious concern as soya bean farmers can still plant until the beginning of December.
Low maize prices may also mean more hectares will be dedicated to oil seeds, in particular sunflower seed. The South African National Crop Estimates Committee will release its customary report on summer crop farmers towards the end of October, which should provide more clarity.
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