South African farmers will rapidly boost corn plantings this year, after the previous season’s harsh drought, as analysts flag “growing optimism” for good growing conditions.
Farmers intend to plant 2.463m hectares of corn, up 26.4% year on year, thanks to much higher white corn sowings, the South African Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) said.
Plantings of white corn, which is used for human consumption in the form of regional staple mealie meal, were seen at 1.455m hectares, up 43.4% year on year.
The area devoted to yellow corn, which is used primarily for animal feed, is seen rising by 8.2%, to 1.008m tonnes.
The move underlines improving conditions for the South African corn crop, after last year’s drought.
“Producers indicated that more corn will be planted for the 2017 season, mainly because of favourable weather forecasts for the new season, which will hopefully bring relief after the previous seasons’ drought conditions,” said the CEC.
“However, the rainfall can still influence farmers’ decisions,” the commission warned.
Optimism on the ground
The results were largely in line with analyst expectations, with a poll of analysts by Reuters pointing to sowings of 2.44m hectares,
Speaking to Agrimoney, Wandile Sihlobo of the farmers association Agbiz said that the figures represented “growing optimism on the ground”.
“Looking on the ground at what is happening… we see farmers are preparing to sow.”
“Sowing activities could accelerate in the coming weeks,” he noted, thanks to “promising conditions”.
And Mr Sihlobo agreed that white corn was seeing most of the benefits, given its high price.
“Farmers are seeing white corn as more profitable,” he said said, noting that while yellow corn can be easily imported, few countries export white corn.
South African buyers will also have to contend with hefty demand from Zimbabwe, which will need to import around 1.7m tonnes of white corn, which Mexico currently the only major origin available.
Despite the prospect of heavier sowings, corn prices rose on Wednesday.
Mr Sihlobo ascribed the buying to “bargain hunting”.
South Africa still has to import a large amount of corn before the next harvest, and traders have been buying dips in eh market.
December white corn futures were up 1.4% in afternoon deals in South Africa, at 3,680 rand a tonne.
December yellow corn was up 1.1%, at $3,208 a tonne.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/south-african-corn-sowings-to-surge-on-growing-optimism–10073.html)