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Latest crop estimates show gains in maize, soya beans

The recently released 2020/2021 summer crop planting estimates from the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) indicate that farmers have planted about a 6,2% larger area to grain and oilseed crops at 4,19 million hectares.

The largest gainers were soya bean with a 14,33% increase in planted area to 806 000ha, which could easily yield about 1,53 million tons and set a new record for the harvest and planted area, according to Paul Makube, agricultural economist at FNB.

“Having surged to R10 000/t earlier this month, which placed pressure on livestock feeding margins, the increased output will improve the availability of the local crop and reduce the level of pricing.”

He said in the case of maize, the estimate of 2,78 million hectares, which could easily yield about 16,4 million tons of maize alone, was an estimate “just shy” of the record 16,82 million tons achieved during the 2016/2017 season.

“The preliminary area estimate for white maize is 1,7 million hectares, which represents an increase of 5,27% or 85 200ha compared with the 1,616 million hectares planted last season.

“In the case of yellow maize, the area estimate is 1,07 million hectares, which is 8,09% or 80 500ha more than the 994 500ha planted last season,” the CEC report said.

“Prices should start moderating in the near term and possibly fall in the second half of 2021. This is good news from an inflation perspective, as well as a positive development for livestock producers as feed costs are likely to decrease given the cheaper raw feed input costs,” Makube said.

For winter crops, the wheat harvest estimate (the sixth) showed a slight contraction from the previous estimate, but was still at a record high of 2,11 million tons, up 37% year-on-year (y/y).

The CEC said the total production for winter grain crops were as follows: “The expected production in the Western Cape is 1,09 million tons (52%), in the Free State 413 600t (20%), and in the Northern Cape 271 950t (13%).”

Makube stressed that the liquor ban would have a ripple effect on the barley value chain as none or little income and bulging stocks from recent operations would have a negative impact downstream.

“The latest data update from the South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) show unutilised stock of [over] 719 300t as of December 2020, which is 25% and 49% higher relative to the November 2020 and December 2019 levels respectively.”

“The expected canola crop is 166 956t, which is 2,27% or 3 700t more than the previous forecast of 163 256t. The area estimate for canola is 74 120 ha, with an expected yield of 2,25t/ha. It is also the largest expected canola crop ever recorded for South Africa.

“The expected oats crop for 2020 is 52 400t, which is 10,55% or 5 000t more than the previous forecast of 47 400t. The area estimate is 26 200ha and the expected yield is 2t/ha,” the CEC report said.

The revised area planted and production figures will be released by the CEC on 25 February.

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