A Reuters poll of four analysts revealed South African farmers are forecast to plant 7 percent more hectares of maize in 2018/2019, compared with the current season in anticipation of improved weather.
The Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) is expected to say that farmers will plant 2.469 million hectares of maize, compared with 2.318 million hectares in the 2017/2018 season. The range was between 2.378 million and 2.570 million hectares.
Commodities analyst at CJS Securities, Piet Faure said “good rains have fallen and if we have decent follow up rains, the area for maize can increase”.
As a result of the uncertainty about the severity of the anticipated El Nino weather conditions later in the season, some analysts have said that estimates are more difficult to make this early. Director and grain trader at Riddermark Capital, Warren Langridge said “it is still early in the season with many variables still to play out, one of which should be closely watched, the increased chances of an El Nino developing”.
Faure however said the El Nino’s impact could be more limited. He noted that “there is about a 70 percent chance of a weak El Nino later”.
Maize prices remain depressed, with the white maize contract ending December fetching 2,411 rand ($168) a tonne. This is about 55 percent lower than its all-time high of 5,376 rand scaled in January 2016, during a historic drought.