The Crop Estimates Committee’s (CEC) objective is to release reliable, accurate and credible estimates to the agricultural industry. The late rain and late plantings this season made the estimate very challenging.

Lees dit in Afrikaans. 

Going by the number of enquiries received by Grain SA regarding the recently released preliminary area estimate, it seems that various and conflicting opinions exist. As a result of these diverse opinions Grain SA received the following feedback from the Crop Estimates Committee:

Producer’s contribution

To shed some light on the calculation of the preliminary area estimate, it is critical that producers understand the impact of their participation in the calculation of this area, as released. Light aircraft are used by Spatialintelligence (SiQ) for aerial observations, but this data is only taken into account at the end of February. The CEC relies heavily on farmers’ inputs when it determines the preliminary area in January. The maize area estimate of 2 227 million ha was almost entirely based on producer information. The importance of information provided by producers to the CEC cannot be over-emphasised.

Table 1 indicates the number of producers who participated in the January month area estimate. Because of the difficult season, the CEC made a strong effort to get higher producer participation. Grain SA would like to thank each of the 421 producers who completed the CEC questionnaires. Uncertainty on the accuracy of the area, published in the preliminary report, can only be resolved with the cooperation of all producers.

Year Number of producers % area representation
2016 403 9,1%
2017 386 8,5%
2018 389 8,7%
2019 421 10,4%

 

Deviation between area estimates

Table 2 shows the differences between the preliminary (January) and final area estimates, since 2010. Each season had challenges making accurate area estimates difficult. However, according to the percentage deviations, the CEC has provided good information considering the paucity of information at their disposal. The greatest deviation during the nine year period was in 2011 when the CEC estimated the January forecast 5.7% higher than the final estimate. During the nine year period, the final estimate increased five times, and decreased marginally four times.

Season Provisional Area (January) Final Area Difference
Ha Ha % Ha
2010 2 627 200 2 742 400 4,4% 115 200
2011 2 515 800 2 372 300 -5,7% -143 500
2012 2 630 200 2 699 200 2,6% 69 000
2013 2 780 000 2 781 200 0,0% 1 200
2014 2 710 500 2 688 200 -0,8% – 22 300
2015 2 656 450 2 652 850 -0,1% -3 600
2016 1 995 150 1 946 750 -2,4% -48 400
2017 2 549 200 2 628 600 3,1% 79 400
2018 2 309 200 2 318 850 0,4% 9 650
2019 2 268 900 ? ?
Average 1,0% 1573

 

First production estimate

It is important to note that the first three production estimates (February to April) are largely determined by and rely on producer information, completed through monthly questionnaires. Grain SA urges every producer to complete the questionnaire which will be sent out in February, as this will determine the size of the first production estimate. An accurate first estimate will only be possible if all producers participate. Producer information facilitates the committee’s task and leads to credible published information, carrying more weight when establishing an estimate. Improved participation by producers leads to a more accurate estimate.

Please contact the CEC’s Rona Beukes at (012) 319-8032 or RonaB@daff.gov.za to participate in the production estimate. – Petru Fourie, Grain SA