Poor growing conditions may lead to lower maize and soybean crop

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In the past 5 years, volatile weather conditions have kept the South African producers on their “knees”. Through these trying times they’ve always remained resilient. Another dry and trying season.

The 2018/19 production season was difficult, characterized by very dry and hot conditions during the planting phase. Producers in the western parts of the country only started planting in the beginning of January 2019 (which is outside the optimal planting window). The optimal planting time should have started in middle November 2018, but due to low rainfall and dry/hot weather conditions grain planting could not commence. Rainfall in the western Free State and North West was erractic. Producers did not receive rains in some areas such as Schweizer-Reineke, Bultfontein, Hertzogville, Petrusville and Bloemhof and therefore could not plant. Expectations are for lower maize and soybean hectares to be planted compared to initial intentions to plant due to drought strain. Eastern summer grain growing producers are expected to plant more sunflower since there’s still time for the crop to be planted

Large parts of the Free State received some beneficial rains during the end of December and beginning of January 2019. With some parts of the province receiving more rain in the past 30 days than the area received throughout the entire season, planting commenced at a rapid pace. Late planting of maize crops brings its own challenges and sets of risks. Regular widespread follow-up rains remain critical.


Grains & Oilseeds

· Fairly normal yields can be expected from the Mpumalanga region for this season. The Mpumalanga maize crop was planted during Oct2018-Nov2018 (earlier plant dates) , even though the 2018 rainfall was below the 2017 rainfall level, crops are in good condition and stress on the crops were minimal. Crops in Mpumalanga are now in flowering stage, late rains received will help mitigate crop losses.

· In the eastern parts of the country were plantings were made, crops should resemble development similar to crops in Mpumalanga. The plants that were planted by end of December 2018 and beginning January 2019 still have a long way to go and may face some risks. Maize crops planted during October and early November should reach maturity in early March. This season the western parts of the country received late rainfall and the eastern parts received average and below average rainfall. In the past 30 days late very much needed rainfall was received and planting commenced at a rapid pace. Soil moisture in our major maize producing provinces improved in the past weeks, however follow-up widespread rains remains critical.

· Stronger local currency limited gains in the local wheat market. According to SAGIS the domestic wheat ending stocks as at end of November 2018 was 1.34 million tons, up from the previous 1.06 million tons reported last year at the same time. Above average yields were reported in parts of the Western Cape, thanks to good rainfalls received during the winter rainfall period. The international weather market will play a key role in world wheat prices in the coming weeks, subsequently affecting the South African wheat price since we are a net-importer.

· Poor weather conditions (below normal rainfall and very hot conditions) in the central and western summergrain and oilseeds growing areas and the ongoing uncertainty with regards to the area planted under soybean or sunflower seed supported prices in the past weeks. Rain over the next 3 weeks remain critical.


· A foot-and-mouth outbreak has been positively identified in Limpopo’s Vhembe District on 8 January 2018. SA’s FMD disease free country status has been suspended. The affected area is under quarantine and no movement of animals and animal products are allowed. Farmers are cautioned to take care with their biosecurity measures. Namibia and Botswana have banned imports of SA’s live cloven hoofed animals and products. This will reduce export potential, which might exasperate the current agricultural conditions; poor maize growing conditions may possibly lead to lower maize crop, which will cause higher feed costs. If exports remain banned this will have a negative effect on red meat prices.

Conce Moraba & Wessel Lemmer

Agricultural Economists, Absa group