Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

The focus in the domestic maize market is shifting towards the 2018/2019 production season which commences next month (October). Between October 2018 and February 2019, the weather will be a key focus in the market as this period covers the planting to pollination stages of crop development.

Apart from talks of possible El Niño occurrence in the early stages of the 2018/2019 production season, there are two fundamental aspects that underpin the weather factor in South Africa’s agricultural sector.

First, the country now receives average annual rainfall that is relatively lower than in the past. South Africa received an average of 526 millimetres of rainfall per year over the past 60 years. However, the recent past has seen a progressive decline in annual average rainfall, with the post-2010 average being 7% lower than the previous three decades.

Secondly, the geographic and temporal distribution of rainfall seems to have shifted over time. Anecdotal evidence suggests a delay in the onset of the summer season. For example, the peak rainfall period in South Africa fell around early October in the eastern regions and from November in the western regions each year. Recent rainfall patterns have seen a three- to six-week delay, which translates to a shift in optimal maize planting dates.

We will keep a close eye on the developments over the coming months in order to ascertain the impact of this on next season’s crop production. The Crop Estimates Committee will release farmers’ intentions to plant data for the 2018/2019 production season on 25 October 2018.

Dam levels have improved significantly in the Western Cape province, thanks to the recent rainfall. This was recorded before last week’s showers, hence we expect a further uptick in this week’s update. –Wandile Sihlobo

Wandile Sihlobo, head of economic and agribusiness intelligence at Agbiz, shares highlights in his update on agricultural commodity markets. Click here for the full report on agri markets for the major commodities.

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