The revised area and fifth production forecast and summer crop estimate was recently released by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC).

Lees dit in Afrikaans.

Commercial maize

The size of the expected commercial maize crop has been set at 10,933 million tons, which is 0,30% or 32 400 tons more than the previous forecast of 10,900 million tons. The area estimate for maize is 2,301 million ha, while the expected yield is 4,75 t/ha.

The estimated maize crop is 13% smaller than the 2018 crop. The three main maize producing areas, namely the Free State, Mpumalanga and North West provinces are expected to produce 80% of the 2019 crop.

The area estimate for white maize is 1,298 million ha & for yellow maize the area estimate is 1,002 million ha. The production forecast of white maize remained unchanged at 5,488 million tons against the previous forecast. The yield for white maize is 4,23 t/ha. In the case of yellow maize the production forecast is 5,445 million tons, which is 0,60% or 32 400 tons more than the 5,412 million tons of the previous forecast. The yield for yellow maize is 5,43 t/ha.

Sunflower seed

The production forecast for sunflower seed remained unchanged at 611 140 tons. The area estimate for sunflower seed is 515 350 ha, while the expected yield is 1,19 t/ha.

Other crops

The production forecast for soya beans is 1,216 million tons, which is 6,13% or 79 450 tons less than the previous forecast of 1,296 million tons. The estimated area planted to soya beans is 730 500 ha and the expected yield is 1,67 t/ha.

The expected groundnut crop decreased by 9,36% or 2 125 tons to 20 580 tons, with an expected yield of 1,03 t/ha. The area estimate for groundnuts is 20 050 ha.

The production forecast for sorghum also decreased slightly by 2,65% or 4 400 tons, from 165 850 tons to 161 450 tons. The area estimate for sorghum is 50 500 ha and the expected yield is 3,20 t/ha.

In the case of dry beans, the production forecast has been adjusted downwards with 8,17% or 5 920 tons – from 72 450 tons to 66 530 tons. The area estimate of dry beans is 59 300 ha, with an expected yield of 1,12 t/ha.

Lack of downward revision encouraging

According to Wandile Sihlobo, agricultural economist and head of agribusiness research at Agbiz, it is comforting to see that there were no downward revisions. The expected harvest is 13% lower than last season’s harvest due to a slight reduction in area planted and poor yields on the back of dryness during the season.

He also points out that the maize harvest currently expected at 10,9 million tons in the 2018/19 production season (which corresponds with the 2019/20 marketing year) added to an available opening stock of 2,8 million tons when the 2019/20 marketing year started on 1 May 2019, should provide South Africa with sufficient maize supplies to cover its annual consumption of about 10,8 million tons.

Maize needs in Southern and East Africa

The other development that is key to watch, as it could have an implication on South African maize prices, is the looming Southern and East African maize needs. Our calculations suggest that Zimbabwe, Kenya and Mozambique could need at least about 2,5 million tons of maize. For weeks, there has been a lack of clarity about where these countries would source the needed supplies.

Fortunately, Tanzania indicated earlier this week that it would avail a million tons of maize to Kenya within the 2019/20 marketing year. Under such a scenario, South Africa, Zambia, and possibly Mexico, would be key suppliers of maize to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This would ultimately mean that the maize shortfall in the region would not be as severe as we initially feared. With that being said, there is still a great deal of uncertainty on this matter, and it is something that is worth monitoring over the coming months.

Click here to read the previous summer field crop report.

The sixth production forecast for summer field crops for 2019 will be released on 25 July 2019. – CEC report & Agbiz comments