28.09.2017

Contrary to expectations, SA wheat production estimates revised upward

Contrary to expectations, SA wheat production estimates revised upward Contrary to market expectations of a decline in South Africa’s 2017 second wheat production estimate, the National Crop Estimate Committee boosted its view by 7% from the previous estimate to 1.7 million tonnes - WandileSihlobo, Agbiz economist

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Contrary to expectations, SA wheat production estimates revised upward Contrary to market expectations of a decline in South Africa’s 2017 second wheat production estimate, the National Crop Estimate Committee boosted its view by 7% from the previous estimate to 1.7 million tonnes. This was partly on the back of an upward revision in area planted and expected higher yields. With that said, this is still 11% lower than the previous season’s harvest and means that South Africa could see an increase in wheat imports in 2017/18 season in order to fulfil the domestic needs.

  • The broad observation of winter wheat production estimate paints an encouraging picture of a 7% uptick in from the previous estimate, but this hides some wide disparities across provinces. For example, the Western Cape wheat production estimate was revised down by 5% from the previous one to 815 000 tonnes. Meanwhile, production estimates for the Northern Cape and Free State provinces were revised up by 5% and 76% from the previous estimates to 300 000 tonnes and 320 000 tonnes, respectively. The increase in the Free State province’s production estimate can be explained by the fact that 47% of the area planted is under irrigation. Therefore, there are expectations of higher yields, as dam levels have improved significantly to over 70%.
  • Summer crops – Today’s data confirmed that South Africa has large summer grain and oilseed supplies. The 2017 total production was placed at 19.21 million tonnes, which is double the previous season’s volume . The higher yields and an increase in area plantings are the key drivers of this notable recovery. White and yellow maize production estimates were revised up by 2% and 1% respectively from the previous estimate to 9.89 million and 6.85 million tonnes. In total, reaching a record level of 16.74 million tonnes, a record level (Chart 1).
  • Overall, the persistent dryness in parts of the Western Cape remains a key risk that could potentially change this optimistic outlook for wheat crop. We will closely monitor the developments over the coming months.



[1]Summer grains represents maize, sunflower seed, soybean, groundnuts, sorghum and dry beans.

ENQUIRIES: Wandile Sihlobo (wandile@agbiz.co.za)

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