South Africa 2019 maize output expected to shrink by 13%

A woman roasts maize cobs on the side of the road in Lawley informal settlement in the south of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s 2019 maize harvest forecast is expected to be reduced from previous estimates after harvests in the North West province pointed to lower yields, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

The government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC), which will provide its sixth production forecast for the 2018/19 season on Thursday, is expected to peg the harvest at 10.913 million tonnes, down slightly from its June estimate of 10.933 million tonnes, a poll of eight traders and market analysts showed.

“Our recent interaction with farmers in areas that have recently harvested within the province points to lower than expected yields,” said Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist for Agricultural Business Chamber.

“Farmers in areas around Lichtenburg report maize yields of about 2.2 tonnes per hectare, compared with expectations of an average yield of 3.4 tonnes per hectare across the province.”

The 2019 harvest is expected to consist of 5.45 million tonnes of the food staple white maize and 5.47 million tonnes of yellow maize, which is used mainly in animal feed.

The poll forecast the 2018/19 harvest to be 13% lower than the 12.510 million tonnes harvested in the 2017/18 season after dry conditions delayed plantings in key maize-growing areas. [nL8N1ZI3D0]

The crop is expected to be slightly higher than the country’s annual consumption of about 10 million tonnes.

Reporting by Naledi Mashishi; Editing by David Goodman

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