Crop production update

The Agbiz Agribusiness Research desk, headed by agriculture economist Wandile Sihlobo, offers role players access to up to date insights. Read latest and previous updates:

26/02 SA’s 2019/20 summer crop looks promising
This promises to be a good year for South Africa’s agricultural sector, at least from a production front. The data released this afternoon by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) show that South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crops production could increase by 26% y/y to 16.8 million tonnes. While this is still the first estimate for this season, with eight more to follow, if it materialises, this could be the second-largest summer crops harvest on record after the 2016/17 crop. The major gains are on maize, soybeans and sunflower seed as illustrated in Exhibit 1.
29/01 There’s optimism about SA’s 2019/20 summer crop season
While South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crop production season started on a negative footing with delayed rainfall across the country, farmers managed to plant the area they intended. This was confirmed by the preliminary plantings data released this afternoon by South Africa’s Crop Estimate Committee (CEC) which shows South Africa’s 2019/20 summer crop area at 3.97 million hectares.1 This is up 1% and 8% from the intentions to plant data released in October 2019 and area planted in 2018/19 season, respectively. There is an improvement in area plantings of all crops with the exception of sorghum and dry beans whose area planting fell by 28% y/y and 13% y/y, respectively.
25/10 SA farmers optimistic about the 2019/20 production season
South Africa’s summer crop farmers are upbeat about the 2019/20 production season as is evident in the farmers’ intentions data released by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) this afternoon. The data showed a potential 7% y/y increase in area plantings to 3.9 million hectares.1 The crops underpinning this potential uptick in area plantings are maize (white and yellow), sunflower seed, soybeans and groundnuts, partly because of relatively attractive domestic market prices. On 23 October 2019, sunflower seed, soybeans, yellow maize and white maize prices were up by 10% y/y, 29% y/y, 17% y/y and 21% y/y, respectively. Meanwhile, sorghum and dry beans hectares could decline notably from the area planted in 2018/19 production season.
28/05 SA maize harvest estimate lifted by 2% from last month
South Africa’s maize supplies for the 2018/19 production year are shaping up better than we previously feared at the beginning of the year when dryness in the western parts of the country led to delayed plantings. Figures released by South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee show that 2018/19 maize harvest could amount to 10.9 million tonnes, which is a 2% increase from last month’s estimate. This was underpinned by an improvement in the white maize production expectation, which is now set to reach 5.5 million tonnes, up by 4% from last month’s estimate on the back of expected better yields in the Free State. The yellow maize harvest was lifted by 1% from last month to 5.4 million tonnes. The harvest process has started in the eastern parts of South Africa, particularly Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, where over 40% of the area planted under maize had been completed by the 24th of May 2019. The yields generally varied between below-average to average, although the eastern regions received better rainfall than the western areas of the country where the harvest process has not started.
26/03 SA’s summer grains and oilseeds production estimates lifted marginally
South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) lifted its estimates for the country’s 2018/19 grains and oilseeds production by 0.4% from last month to 12.7 million tonnes. There were no adjustments in most commodities’ production estimates with the exception of sorghum which was lowered by 3% from last month, while the maize estimate was lifted marginally, and thus overshowed the decline in sorghum, resulting into an overall increase in the grains and oilseeds estimate (see Figure 1). With that said, the overall grains and oilseeds production estimate is still 16% lower than the 2017/18 harvest due to a reduction in area planted, and expectations of relatively lower yields in some areas.
27/02 South Africa is in for a good grain harvest, despite the decline in area planted
South Africa’s grain and oilseed market could be well supplied in the 2018/19 marketing season owing to expectations of relatively large maize and soybean harvest. The National Crop Estimates Committee placed its first production estimates for maize at 12.2 million tonnes, which is well above our estimate of 11.2 million tonnes, albeit having declined by 27% from the 2016/17 production season – this is still above the annual consumption of 10.5 million tonnes. Soybean harvest is estimated at 1.4 million tonnes, a record harvest. Admittedly, weather conditions have improved over the summer crop regions but the maize production estimates came as a surprise considering the decline in area planted.
30/01 Early estimates show a 7% y/y decline in SA’s 2017/18 summer crop plantings
South Africa’s 2017/18 initial estimates for summer crop plantings show a 7% year-on-year decline to 3.70 million hectares. White maize, sunflower seed, groundnuts and sorghum plantings are the key reason for this overall downswing. This, in turn, was driven by dry and warm weather conditions experienced in the western parts of South Africa over the past couple of weeks. Total maize plantings declined by 12% from the 2016/17 production season to 2.30 million hectares. This is better than the market consensus forecast of 18% year-on-year decline in maize plantings to 2.15 million hectares.

Wandile Sihlobo
Agbiz Head: Agribusiness Research
Contact:    Email or call +27 12 807 6686
Twitter:     @WandileSihlobo

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