The highlight in the domestic agricultural market this week, ending 19 January 2018 was the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) estimate for South Africa’s 2017/2018 maize production, which was placed at 12.5 million tonnes, down 28% year-on-year.

While this estimate is in line with the long-term production trend, it will be difficult to achieve given that the North West and Free State provinces were unable to plant the overall intended area.

More concerning is that the expected rainfall during the week ending 21 January 2018 did not materialise in most regions, and soil moisture remains very low in the central and western parts. This does not bode well for summer crops. With that said, summer crops in the eastern parts of the country are in good shape, despite the recent warm temperatures.

Overall, all is not lost; if the expected rainfall during the next two weeks materialises and lasts for a sustained period, crop conditions and prospects of a better harvest will improve.

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