Bloomberg News

South African Farmers May Plant 11% More Corn as Prices Climb

January 24, 2012

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa, the continent’s largest corn producer, may plant 11 percent more land with the grain this season after prices increased.

Plantings may expand to 2.63 million hectares (6.5 million acres) from 2.37 million hectares, Marda Scheepers, an official at the government’s Crop Estimates Committee, said by phone from Pretoria today. That compares with the 2.57 million-hectare median estimate of nine traders surveyed by Bloomberg Jan. 19.

“The reason for the advance is an increase in prices compared with the same period a year ago,” Scheepers said. “We’ve seen a decrease in the area planted with sorghum as farmers switched to corn.”

White-corn prices have risen 38 percent over the past six months on the South African Futures Exchange. The grain for March delivery closed at 2,686 rand ($337) a metric ton today.

Farmers may sow 48,000 hectares with sorghum, 31 percent less than last season. Dry-bean plantings will probably fall by 11 percent to 37,200 hectares, while sunflower-seed plantings may shrink by 20 percent to 515,000 hectares, the committee’s forecasts show.

The committee expects soybean plantings to expand by 15 percent to 480,000 hectares this season, and groundnut plantings to fall by 17 percent to 46,000 hectares.

--With assistance from Jana Marais in Johannesburg. Editors: Ana Monteiro, Alastair Reed

To contact the reporter on this story: Tshepiso Mokhema in Johannesburg at tmokhema@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net


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