THE BLOG
19/01/2018 16:45 SAST | Updated 19/01/2018 16:45 SAST

Can SA Really Achieve 12.5-Million Tons Of Maize This Year?

Perhaps such sustained good rainfall would leave the country somewhere near to the USDA's estimate of 12.5-million tons.

Philimon Bulawayo/ Reuters

Okay folks, I have been meaning to write Friday's blog posts – which will basically touch on key weekly events in the agricultural environment.

Here goes...

The highlight in the domestic agricultural market this week was the U.S. department of agriculture's (USDA) estimate for South Africa's 2017/18 maize production, which was placed at 12.5-million tons – down 28 percent year-on-year, but in line with the long-term production trend.

Remember, the 2016/17 maize harvest was the biggest in the history of South Africa, hence the magnitude of the expected decline.

While I appreciate that this is still an early estimate, I think it will be difficult to achieve such numbers in the 2017/18 production season, given that North West and Free State were unable to plant the overall intended area.

Remember, at the beginning of the season South African farmers intended to plant 2.47-million hectares of maize, down by 6 percent from the 2016/17 production season.

As I pointed out in this article, farmers in North West and the northwestern Free State have planted roughly 70 percent and 75 percent of the intended area, respectively. These particular provinces collectively account for more than two-thirds of South Africa's maize hectares.

More concerning is that the expected rainfall during the week did not materialise in most regions, and soil moisture remains very low in the central and western parts.

But it's not all bad – summer crops in the eastern parts of South Africa are in good shape, despite the recent warm temperatures.

Also encouraging is that the weather forecasts for the next two weeks promise rainfall of between 20 and 60 millimetres across summer crop-growing areas of South Africa.

Therefore, if the expected rainfall within the next two weeks materialises and lasts for a sustained period, crop conditions and prospects of a better harvest will improve.

Perhaps such sustained good rainfall would leave the country somewhere near to the USDA's estimate of 12.5-million tons.