The South African maize harvest has exceeded all expectations, with the Crop Estimate Committee now putting it at 16.414 million tonnes – 444 175 tonnes (2.78%) more than the previous estimate of 15. 969 million tonnes a month ago.
“It is unbelievable that one year you have one of the biggest harvests ever and the next year, you have a harvest that exceeds all expectations,” said Corné Louw, senior economist from Grain SA.
“It is especially surprising if you compare it with the first estimate in February, when only 13.918 million tonnes were expected. Whether we want to know it or not, the surplus becomes bigger and there’s even more pressure to export.”
According to researcher Johan Straus, the CEC for the first time also added an estimate of 731 000 tonnes for the non-commercial sector. This means, in total, the South African maize harvest for 2016/’17 exceeds 17 million tonnes.
Wandile Sihlobo, economist from Agbiz, said analysts did not expect a big increase before the seventh estimate.
According to a survey from Bloomberg, the size of the harvest was expected to remain unchanged. Reuters analysts said an increase of 1% to 16.14 million tonnes could be expected.
Even a very optimistic expectation from the International Grain Board (IGB) shows an increase of 2% to 16.70 million tonnes.
This is the biggest maize harvest produced in the history of South Africa and the expected yield of 6.24 t/ha is also the highest ever.
The three most important maize producing provinces (Free State, Mpumalanga and North West) is expected to produce 83% of the harvest.
The production estimate of white maize is 9.654 million tonnes, which is 1.54% or 146 500 tonnes more than the previous estimate.
The yield of white maize is 5.88 t/ha. In the case of yellow maize, the production estimate is 6.760 million tonnes, which is 4.61% or 297 675 tonnes more. The yield is 6.86 t/ha.
The production of sunflower seed is up with roughly 6% to 870 095 tonnes, while soya bean production is down 2% to 1.32 million tonnes.
The expected harvest for ground beans, sorghum and dry beans remains unchained at 90 550 tonnes, 151 335 tonnes and 68 525 tonnes respectively.