South Africa expected to sow 8.3% more maize hectares in 2020/2021 – survey

South African farmers are expected to plant 8.3% more hectares of the food staple maize next season, boosted by above normal rainfall and higher maize prices, a survey of five traders and analysts showed on Friday.

The government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) is expected to forecast the maize area to be sowed at 2.64 million hectares for the 2020/21 season, up from 2.4 million hectares planted in the 2019/2020 season.

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The crop is expected to consist of an estimated 1.6 million hectares for white maize – which is used mainly for human consumption – and 898,000 hectares for yellow maize used primarily as animal feed.

“For the new season, the area forecast is increased year on year due to strong prices and forecast of an above-normal rainfall,” said Paul Makube, an agriculture economist with FNB Agriculture.

The survey also expects the CEC to forecast the 2019/2020 maize harvest at 15.353 million tonnes, down almost half a percent from 15.422 million tonnes it had forecast in September.

The harvest is expected to consist of 8.743 million tonnes of white maize and 6.610 million tonnes of yellow maize the survey showed.

The maize harvest for the current fiscal year is still expected to be 36% higher than the 11.275 million tonnes harvested in the 2018/2019 season when dry weather conditions hurt yields, analysts and traders said.

The CEC will release its 9th production forecast for the 2019/2020 season and forecast the intentions to plant for the 2020/2021 season on Wednesday, October 28.