JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa will likely harvest 14.54 million tonnes of maize in 2017, up 87 percent from last year after favourable weather conditions lifted yields, the government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) said on Tuesday.
The third production forecast for the season, which is higher than market expectations of 14.175 million tonnes, will be the largest yield since 1981 when 14.656 million tonnes were reaped, the CEC said.
The crop will comprise an estimated 8.618 million tonnes of white maize, the staple mostly used for human consumption, and 5.917 million tonnes of yellow, the bulk of which goes to animal feed.
The 2017 harvest will be almost double the 2016 harvest of 7.78 million tonnes, when yields were impacted by a drought triggered by an El Nino weather pattern, pushing up food prices and fuelling inflation.
The staple white contract ending July ended up 1.72 percent at 1,836 rand per tonne on Tuesday. The July contract scaled record peaks over 5,000 rand a tonne 15 months ago due to drought.
Increased rainfall over the maize belt during the summer growing season, brought on by a La Nina weather system, has increased the area of maize planted and the yields, sending prices sharply lower.
Reporting by Olwethu Boso and Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by James Macharia