maize harvest

Massive SA maize harvest expected to smash all records

The biggest maize harvest in South African history is expected for 2017, but regional market options are limited due to GM restrictions and enhanced maize production in the region.

The National Crops Estimate Committee (CEC) expects the commercial maize harvest to be 15 631 million tons, 7.54% more than the previous estimate of 14 536 tons.

The CEC says it’s the biggest maize harvest produced in South African history.

Exports to African countries

Agbiz agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo said the increase in production means that maize exports can reach 3 million tons, 52% white maize and 48% yellow maize.

He said it will be easier for yellow maize to find buyers on the global market, whereas white maize could have a lower demand.

“The maize typically gets exported to African markets. However, the dynamics across the region have changed the season,” he said.

Other maize producing countries like Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe also expect bumper harvests this season.

“This will not only limit South Africa’s export opportunities to these respective countries, but will also present competition to other African markets,” Sihlobo said.

“In east-African markets that currently need maize such as Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania, the genetically modified (GM) seed restrictions remain a key barrier. This will present opportunities for non-GM maize producers in countries such as Zambia and Malawi, who recently lifted the maize export bans.”

About 85% of South Africa’s planted maize crop is grown with GM seeds.

Record yields

The production estimate of white maize is 9 467 million tons, which is 9. 84% more than the previous estimate of 8 618 tons. The yield of white maize is 5.76 tons/ha.

In the case of yellow maize, the production estimate is 6.164 million tons, which is 4.17% or 246 950 tons more than the 5.917 million tons of the previous estimate. The yield of yellow maize is 6.25 t/ha.

The data for the yield per hectare for the Free State and North West is based on scientific and objective results provided by the National Crop Estimates Committee, led by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

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