- South Africa's summer crop is not as bad as was feared at the start of the production season.
- Data released by the Crop Estimates Committee shows overall improvements in most crop production estimates.
- Agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo describes it as a broadly optimistic situation.
South Africa's summer crop has better than expected despite fears at the beginning of the 2021/22 production season, when heavy rains threatened the yields, says agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo of the agricultural business chamber AgBiz.
Data released by the Crop Estimates Committee shows overall improvements in most crop production estimates compared to February figures.
"This broadly optimistic production data will, nonetheless, have minimal impact on prices. As with the previous few years, the domestic grains and oilseeds prices primarily follow the global markets, where the Russia-Ukraine war worries continue to present upside pressures on prices, which reflect in the South African grains market," explains Sihlobo.
"Still, the fact that supplies improved provides comfort as far as the availability of essential grains is concerned. The upside price movements bode well for farmers in areas that didn't experience much crop damage."
The maize harvest estimate was lifted by 1% to 14.7 million tons. According to Sihlobo, it is "a decent harvest", well above the 10-year average of 12.8 million tons and annual maize consumption of 11.8 million tons.
The latest maize crop estimate is still down 10% y/y, mainly due to a reduction in area plantings and expected lower yields in some regions. South Africa will likely remain a net exporter of maize in the 2022/23 year, which starts in May, according to Sihlobo.
The estimate for the soybean crop this year is now 1.9 million tons - 1% less y/y.
"The expansion in area plantings and expected better yields in some country regions are the major factors behind these expected relatively large harvests," says Sihlobo. The 2021/22 sunflower seed production estimate increased by 5% from the previous month to 959 450 tons - up 42% y/y primarily due to an expansion in area plantings.
"The improvement in the sunflower seed harvest, and indeed, the entire vegetable oils market, comes at an opportune time when there are worries that there could be supply constraints in the coming months in the global market. The Russian invasion has devastated Ukraine's exports and agricultural activity, thus limiting sunflower oil exports," says Sihlobo.
Dry beans production estimates are at 59 690 tons - up by 4% y/y, while sorghum is one of the only crops that experienced the sharpest decline, with the crop estimated at 137 220 tons, down by 36% y/y. This is mainly due to declining area plantings as some hectares were switched to sunflower seeds.