Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

The Western Cape is the only province with a large share of dryland wheat and therefore prone to weather risks. Fortunately, the weather conditions have been quite favourable this year, with a fair amount of rainfall over most parts of the province. The only winter wheat growing area that did not receive adequate rainfall is the southern Cape, hence reports of crop damage.

The next eight days could bring heavy rainfall of between 20 and 70 millimetres over the Western Cape province. This is a welcome development as the crop is at the pollination stage of development that requires moisture. Nonetheless, the areas that experienced crop damage in the southern Cape regions might not be able to recover at this stage.

The expected rainfall will not only improve soil moisture and benefit crops but also improve dam levels. The most recent data from the Department of Water and Sanitation shows that the Western Cape provincial dam levels averaged 55% in the week of 27 August 2018, up by a percentage point from the previous week (20 August 2018) and 22 percentage points higher than the same period last year (2017).

The forecast rainfall is not only limited to the Western Cape but also to other winter wheat producing provinces, with the exception of Limpopo which could experience cool and drier weather conditions over the observed period. This is not much of a concern as the irrigation areas of the province could benefit from higher dam levels.

The favourable weather outlook supports the Crop Estimates Committee’s view of an 18% annual recovery in wheat production to 1,8 million tons. Most importantly, as a result of an uptick in domestic production, wheat imports could decline by 33% from the 2017/2018 season to 1,4 million tons. This is according to data from the national Supply and Demand Estimates Committee. –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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