The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Farmers expand plantings in anticipation of bumper crop

The Mercury

30 Oct 2019

SOUTH Africa’s summer crop farmers are upbeat about the 2019/20 production season.

This is seen in the farmers’ intentions data released by the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) last week.

The data showed a potential 7% year on year increase in area plantings to 3.9 million hectares.

The crops underpinning this potential uptick in area plantings are maize (white and yellow), sunflower seed, soybeans and groundnuts, partly because of relatively attractive domestic market prices.

On October 23, the year-on-year prices of sunflower seed, soybeans, yellow maize and white maize were up by 10%, 29%, 17% and 21% respectively.

Meanwhile, sorghum and dry beans hectares could decline notably from the area planted in the 2018/19 production season.

Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said that at the farm level, however, there was still very limited activity despite it being the usual optimal planting period for maize in the eastern regions of South Africa.

The optimal planting dates for maize run from October 15 to November 15 for the central to eastern regions.

Meanwhile, the western regions’ optimal planting dates are between November 15 to December 15.

“The delays in plantings thus far are because of lower soil moisture as summer rains have not yet started. While this is not an ideal situation, the country is not in panic mode. There is still sufficient time for plantings,” said Sihlobo.

He said the SA Weather Service forecast above-normal rainfall in the central to eastern regions of South Africa between November and January.

“This could help boost soil moisture and thereafter plantings and crop-growing conditions.”

Looking ahead, Sihlobo said the CEC would release its preliminary plantings estimates in January.

He said that for major crops, the last time the country planted a large number of hectares was accompanied by a record harvest of 16.8 million tons in the 2016/17 production season.

“While we are not suggesting that these are levels that South Africa will attain in the 2019/20 production season, an increase of the currently intended planting size, accompanied by good rainfall, would lead to a good harvest and a decline in commodities prices. This bodes well for consumers in 2020.” | Network Reporter