Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

The weather has changed overnight and currently shows a possibility of rainfall over most parts of South Africa during the next eight days. Most wheat growing areas of the country could potentially receive between 16 and 35 millimetres, which will slightly improve soil moisture and subsequently benefit the new season crop.

The expected showers could, however, slow that planting process, which is currently underway in the Free State and Northern Cape provinces. These are the two biggest wheat growing provinces after the Western Cape, collectively accounting for nearly one third of the intended area of 500 500 hectares in the 2018/2019 production season. The planting window in these particular provinces typically runs between June and July of each year.

The Eastern Cape regions around Matatiele, Ugie and Maclear that are preparing field trials for various dryland winter wheat cultivars could also benefit from the expected rainfall over the province. We will monitor the developments during the coming months in order to assess whether the new cultivars adapt well. If the trials succeed, additional production could boost the province’s contribution to national wheat production, which currently stands at a mere 0,4%of the intended area of 500 500 hectares for the 2018/2019 season.

The Western Cape, which accounts for more than two thirds of the intended area for this season, was planted earlier than other provinces and the crop has already emerged and currently in good shape following recent showers. The expected rainfall will help sustain the crop’s good condition and also improve dam levels. The Western Cape provincial dam levels averaged 47%in the week of 09 July 2018, up by 5 percentage points from the previous week (of 2 July 2018) and 23 percentage points from the corresponding period last year(2017).

In terms of data, last week (ending 6 July 2018) South Africa imported 56 050 tons of wheat, all from Russia. This is down by 15% from the volume imported in the week ending 29 June 2018. This brought South Africa’s 2017/2018 wheat imports to 1,6 million tons, which equates to 84% of the season’s import forecast of 1,9 million tons. – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz

Wandile Sihlobo, head of economic and agribusiness intelligence at Agbiz, shares highlights in his update on agricultural commodity markets. Click here for the full report on agri markets for the major commodities.

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