South African maize farmers are firing on all cylinders, as their tractors roar into maize lands trailing planters. Farmers hope to get as much land as possible planted to maize, so that they can swing the country into a net exporting status.
The newly released provisional surface estimate of summer crops from the National Crop Estimating Committee indicated that an estimated total of 2,55m ha of maize was planted for the 2016/17 harvesting season. This is 31% more than the previous season. It is also 4% more than farmers intended to plant last October.
If the favourable weather holds, and maize growers can reach an average yield of 4,4t/ha, the South African national maize harvest is likely to get to 11m tons, which is greater than the national demand.
White maize plantings made a major recovery after good rain and favourable producer prices. The crop estimate committee indicated the area planted to white maize would increase by 53% to 1,56m ha compared to the previous season. Yellow maize plantings increased by 6,4% to an estimated 992 000ha compared to the previous season.
Estimations are that summer crop plantings will increase by 20% compared to the previous season. The estimated surface area planted to soya beans is currently 542 200ha (an increase of 8% on last season), while the surface area planted to groundnuts is 45 500ha, an increase of 100%.
The estimated area planted to sunflower decreased by 7% to 665 800ha. During last season’s drought, farmers increased the area under sunflower.
Sorghum plantings are also considerably smaller than last year. Current estimates stand at 48 500ha, almost 25% less than the previous season.
The estimate for dry beans is 45 000ha, an increase of about 30% compared to last year.