The National Crop Estimates Committee announced their first summer crop estimate for the 2015/16 season. The maize crop is estimated at 9.665 million tons. White maize is estimated at 4.696 mt and Yellow maize at 4.969 mt.
The average yield during the previous season was 5.3 tons per hectare and the total crop was 14.25 million tons. The average for this season is estimated at only 3.63 t/ha.
The maize crop will be 32% lower than last year because of the severe drought experienced during January and February 2015. The drought also impacted negatively on the estimates for sunflower. The expected crop is now 574 300 tons. This is 31% lower than last year. We also expected a new record soya bean crop this year, but the drought caused it to be 1% lower than last year at 938 350 tons.
Due to the decrease in the production of maize, South Africa will need to import ± 1.65 million tons of yellow maize. It will put tremendous pressure on the infrastructure of South Africa. If an even lower harvest realises later on, it will have catastrophic consequences. The supply and demand of white maize for the coming season is extremely tight. White maize prices increased to import parity price levels and declined the past week due to profit taking, deliveries of maize and improved rainfall forecasts. It is expected that prices will recover to the earlier import parity price levels for the rest of the marketing year.
“We have full confidence in the scientific methodology applied by the Crop Estimates Committee to estimate the size of the harvest. It remains an estimate at best. The weather can still have an impact on the coming harvest and uncertainty prevails, Especially with regards to a further lower yield, Jannie de Villiers, CEO of Grain SA emphasized. “One thing is sure and that is that we are not going to have an exportable surplus,” De Villiers added.
As the season progresses, additional rainfall will have a less positive impact on the size of the crop. If we receive no rain or very little rain, the situation can even worsen further. The current year, as well as the next year, will be a very difficult season for the country. The expected poor summer crops will impact negatively on the agricultural sector and basic food products are going to be very expensive for consumers.