Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

The drier weather conditions, which have been a hindering factor for maize planting activity in the western parts of South Africa, could ease as the weather forecast for the next two weeks shows prospects of higher rainfall over most parts of the country. This will help improve soil moisture and planting activity and germination process in areas that have already planted in the eastern parts of the country.

The weather will continue to dominate the market over the coming weeks, at least until the end of February 2019, when a large share of the crop passes the pollination stage of development. Unfortunately, the medium-term weather outlook presents some risks on this front. While the outlook for the near term is favourable, with prospects of rainfall, South Africa could experience dry conditions between the end of January and March 2019. This period coincides with pollination which generally requires high moisture in order to boost yields.

Apart from the weather developments, there is general optimism in the market that South African farmers could plant 2,4 million hectares of maize in the 2018/2019 season, up by 6% from the 2017/2018 production estimate, according to the farmers’ intentions to plant data released by the Crop Estimates Committee last month (October). The first plantings estimate, which will present a view of actual activity, will be released on 29 January 2019.

On the global front, although 2018/2019 maize production estimate is at 1,1 billion tons, 2% higher than the previous season, the supplies will still be tight due to increasing global consumption, specifically from the animal feed industry. This, in part, is sparked by the possible switch from wheat to maize due to relatively lower prices. The wheat market prices could increase somewhat in the coming months due to expected lower supplies, hence the prospects for a switch to maize in some countries. –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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