South Africa’s crop committee raises record maize estimate by 2 percent


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa will harvest 15,969 million tonnes of maize this season, the biggest crop on record after improved weather conditions across the maize belt boosted yields, the government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) said on Wednesday.

The estimate is up 2 percent compared to the CEC’s June forecast of 15.6 million tonnes. The previous record harvest of 14.656 million tonnes was set in 1981.

The CEC estimate came in just above a forecast by analysts and traders who pegged this year’s crop at 15.77 million tonnes.

The harvest will comprise 9.507 million tonnes of white maize, the regional staple used for human consumption, and 6.462 million tonnes of yellow, the bulk of which is used in animal feed, the CEC’s sixth production forecast of the season said.

The 2017 harvest will also be more than double the previous season, which was only 7.78 million tonnes following an El Nino-triggered drought that impacted yields, pushed up food prices and fuelled inflation.

The Johannesburg stock exchange’s white maize futures contract due in December has fallen 65 percent from its peak of 5,376 rand a tonne hit in January last year to close at 1,872 rand on Wednesday, helping to dampen inflation and food prices.

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