The South African Weather Service has recently highlighted that “the El Niño-Southern Oscillation is still in a neutral phase and although most models indicate a slight strengthening towards an El Niño phase, the uncertainty seems to be increasing to its potential strength and timing. Therefore, this uncertainty casts some doubt on its potential impact over South Africa during the summer period as there is no significant response to atmospheric conditions in the area.”
Last month (September), the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shared a similar message, at the same time, acknowledging a possibility of El Niño occurrence later in summer. These are important developments as South Africa’s 2018/2019 maize production season will soon commence in most regions and that will require increased moisture to sustain the crop in good condition.
With that said, the local weather bureau also indicated a possibility of above-normal rainfall over most parts of the summer crop growing areas between November 2018 and January 2019. If the aforementioned weather forecasts materialise, there is a fair chance that the South African maize crop could receive sufficient moisture for a greater part of the growing season, but the crucial pollination period, which typically occurs around February of each year could coincide with El Niño or dry conditions which might lead to lower yields.
At the end of this month (October), the Crop Estimates Committee’s data will give us a sense of the potential maize area plantings.
Apart from the aforementioned weather developments, the dam levels have improved significantly in the Western Cape province, thanks to the recent rainfall. –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.