Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

The winter wheat harvest process is slowly gaining momentum in the Western Cape. The most recent data from SAGIS shows that 78 731 tons of wheat were delivered to commercial silos in the week ending 26 October 2018, well above the initial deliveries of 7 716 tons.

While some areas of the province received light showers at the start of the week, which somewhat slowed the harvest process, there has now been an improvement. The weather conditions were generally favourable yesterday and some farmers have resumed the harvest process. Looking ahead, the weather forecast for the next two weeks shows clear skies with scattered clouds over most parts of the Western Cape, which means the harvest process could continue with interruptions in some areas.

We place more emphasis on this particular province, not only because the crop matured earlier than other provinces due to differences in planting dates, but because of its share contribution to South African wheat production. The province accounts for 49% of the estimated 1,86 million tons in the 2018/2019 production season. Most importantly, the province’s wheat production is up by 54% from the 2017/2018 season. This is due to favourable weather conditions which have led to fairly higher yields in most areas, not the expansion in the area. In fact, the area planted this season is down marginally from the 2017/2018 season.

This optimism does not only end within the Western Cape, but the crop growing conditions are also favourable in provinces such as the Northern Cape, Free State, Eastern Cape and Limpopo, amongst others, all thanks to recent showers and improved water levels in the dams for irrigation following good summer and winter rainfall. Above all, if the aforementioned harvest projection of 1,86 million tons materialises, South Africa’s wheat imports could fall by a third from last year’s (2017) volume to 1,4 million tons in the 2018/2019 marketing year. –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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