South African farmers favour white corn over yellow corn


South African farmers boosted corn plantings by 31% on last year, the country's Crop Estimates Committee said.

At 2.55m hectares, sowings were up 90,000 hectares above previous estimates, although a touch behind average analyst expectations.

Farmers boosted plantings of white corn, the country's staple food crop, in response to high prices after last year's drought.

White corn plantings expand expense of yellow corn

White corn plantings rose by 53% year-on-year, to 1.56m hectares, 100,000 tonnes above previous expectations.

"The white corn was a little bit of surprise," Wandile Sihlobo, at AgBiz, told Agrimoney.

He suggested that farmers outside the main white corn growing area in the west of the corn belt had chosen to plant the variety, thanks to its tempting prices.

"The significant uptick in white maize hectares is largely on the back of a positive supply response from favourable market prices, relative to other crops," Mr Sihlobo said.

Yellow corn plantings were up 6% year-on-year, at 992,000 hectares, a touch behind planting intentions.

"I was a bit surprised yellow corn dropped," said Mr Sihlobo, noting strong local feed demand.

US GMO exports approved

On Wednesday South Africa approved the import of 1.3m tonnes of genetically modified corn from the US.

These imports are likely to be of white corn, as South Africa can source cheaper yellow corn from South America and elsewhere.

But Mr Sihlobo said that it was unlikely that such large volumes would be imported in practice, with only about 1m tonnes of imports needed.

Armyworm threat

"Looking ahead, weather forecasts show a possibility of high rainfall over the summer crops growing areas within the next two weeks, which could improve crop growing conditions," Mr Sihlobo said.

But he noted unconfirmed reports that the armyworm epidemic which is spreading across Southern Africa has reached parts of South Africa.

"We view this pest as a risk to summer crops," Mr Sihlobo said.

"Hopefully the state works with the farmers," he said, suggesting that if South Africa's farmers can maintain production, they will be able to benefit from the devastation in other countries in the region.


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