April 20, 2017 / 9:49 AM / 9 months ago

South Africa maize forecast seen down slightly from previous, still bumper crop

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) is expected to slightly lower its summer maize forecast when it gives its third estimate next week but a bumper harvest is still seen, a Reuters survey of four analysts and institutions showed on Thursday.

A hawker prepares a cob of corn at his makeshift shop in Soweto, January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The CEC, which gives its next forecast on Tuesday, is seen pegging the harvest at 14.175 million tonnes, about 1 percent lower than its previous estimate of 14.32 million tonnes.

This would still be over 82 percent more than the 7.78 million tonnes reaped last year, when drought hit the crop, pushing up food prices and inflation. The range was 13.5 to 14.6 million tonnes.

This season’s crop has benefited hugely from good rains but Wandile Sihlobo, an economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber, said yields might be depressed slightly in parts of the country’s maize belt where plantings were late and recent rainfall has been scattered.

The white maize contract due in July was 1.15 percent lower on Thursday at 1,879 rand a tonne, around 65 percent lower than record peaks of over 5,000 rand a tonne scaled early last year during the drought.

Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia

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