South Africa expects another bumper corn harvest

It is anticipated that South Africa will produce another bumper corn crop following good rainfall and favourable weather. Photo: Jannes Bohlmann
It is anticipated that South Africa will produce another bumper corn crop following good rainfall and favourable weather. Photo: Jannes Bohlmann

It is expected that South Africa will produce a second consecutive bumper corn crop in the 2020/21 MY due to excellent summers rains and favourable weather. Demand for animal feed, however, is under pressure.

Driven by favourable weather conditions and widespread rains, it is anticipated that South Africa’s 2020/21 MY total corn crop will be 16 mmt, which matches the 2019/20 MY corn crop.

The South African Crop Estimates Committee predicts the country’s commercial corn crop for the 2019/20 MY at 15.4 mmt on 2.6 million hectares at a national average yield of 5.9 t/ha. The 2019/20 MY corn crop is the second-largest commercial corn crop ever produced in South Africa and 37% larger than the 2018/19 MY’s commercial crop of 11.3 mmt.

The production estimate for the same period for the subsistence farming sector’s corn crop is 543,545 t, which brings South Africa’s total corn crop for the 2019/20 MY to 16 mmt on 2.9 million hectares, which is 35% more than the 2018/19 MY’s corn crop of 11.8 mmt.

Corn consumption up, but demand for animal feed down

The estimate for the commercial demand for corn in South Africa for the 2019/20 MY is 11.5 mmt, driven mainly by an increase in the demand for corn for human consumption as the country struggles with a relatively weak economy and high unemployment rate, resulting in many consumers shifting more to white corn, in the form of meal. Human consumption of corn is therefore estimated at 5.8 mmt for the 2019/20 MY, which is an increase of 8% from the previous marketing year.

Demand for corn for animal feed

Meanwhile, the shrinking local economy places a restraint on the demand for animal protein. Yellow corn is used as the primary ingredient for animal feed, especially in the broiler industry. Estimates for the demand for corn for animal feed in the 2019/20 MY is 5.6 mmt, down 3% from the 2018/19 MY’s level of 5.7 mmt.

South Africa remains a net exporter of corn

With commercial production exceeding local consumption, South Africa will remain a net exporter of corn in the 2020/21 MY when it is predicted that about 3 mmt will be exported. Post estimates South Africa will export about 2.5 mmt of corn in the 2019/20 MY.

In the first 8 months of the 2019/20 MY, South Africa had already exported 1.9 mmt of corn (1.2 mmt of yellow corn and 667,175 t of white corn). Early in the 2019/20 MY, most of the yellow corn exports were destined for countries in the Far East, particularly South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. However, South Africa’s exports to these markets ceased in September 2020, after the northern hemisphere countries’ corn harvest and consequent entry to the world market.

Almost all of South Africa’s white corn exports in the 2019/20 MY are destined to its neighbouring countries, and so far Zimbabwe (206,692 t), Botswana (162,127 t) and Mozambique (101,606 t) were the major markets. South Africa’s white corn stocks are ample.

The information in this article has been extracted from a USDA GAINS report prepared by Dirk Esterhuizen.

Berkhout
Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist
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