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South Africa summer grains planting data reaffirm positive outlook for 2020/21 production season

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Source: Agri News Net Farming Portal/ Agbiz, photo credit: Days Of The Year

The latest data in South Africa’s agricultural sector reinforce the view that the 2020/21 production season could potentially deliver one of the largest harvests on record

This past week, the country’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) released its first planting estimates data, which show total summer grains plantings for 2020/21 at 4.2 million hectares, up by 6% from the 2019/20 season. This dataset comprises maize (white and yellow), soybeans, sunflower seed, groundnuts, sorghum and dry beans. There is an expansion in most crops, except sunflower seeds, whose plantings declined by 5% year on year (y/y) to 473 300 hectares, which would be the smallest area in nine years. This decline is mainly due to some hectares being shifted to white maize plantings in the western regions of South Africa because of favourable prices.

 As we have commented in various notes, the weather conditions across South Africa have generally been favourable since the start of the production season in October 2020. Since then, the widespread rains allowed plantings to commence on time, except for a few Limpopo regions, specifically the Springbok plains, which were drier than most areas of South Africa. Nevertheless, the past week’s rains have changed fortunes even for those more parched Springbok plains of Limpopo.

 In the Free State, where the crop was generally in good condition before the past week’s rains, we worry about potential damages, particularly in farms around Bultfontein, Hoopstad and Wesselsbron. In the week ahead, these regions will need sunshine to ensure that waterlogging is minimized and the crop recovers.

Aside from the Free State, the crops in other provinces of the country appear in good shape, with expectations of fairly average to above-average yields. Such a prospect on increased area plantings reinforces our view that 2020/21 could be one of the country’s best production seasons. After these recent rains, sunshine across the country would do better for the crop than additional showers.

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