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The latest data from South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) shows a promising outlook for the 2022/23 summer crop season and the 2023/24 winter crop season. This is the seventh update for the summer crops, and there are unlikely to be any major changes in the next three updates.

The CEC estimates that South Africa will produce 16,4 million tons of maize in 2022/23, a slight increase from last month (up 0,3% month-on-month). This is the second-largest maize harvest ever recorded, and 6% higher than the previous season. The bumper crop is mainly due to high yields, as the planted area is slightly lower than the previous season. South Africa will have enough maize to meet its domestic demand of approximately 11,4 million tons and export more than 3,2 million tons in the 2023/24 marketing year, which corresponds to the 2022/23 production season.

The soya bean harvest remains at a record level of 2,8 million tons, up 24% year-on-year. It is unchanged from July’s estimate. The increase in production is driven by an expansion in the planted area and higher yields. South Africa will be able to satisfy its domestic soya bean demand and have approximately 350 000 tons of soya bean ready for export markets. The sunflower seed production estimate was revised down by 2% from July’s estimate to 743 610 tons, down 12% year-on-year. The decline in sunflower seed production reflects the reduced planted area in some regions.

Read more about the 2023 winter crop harvest.

Winter crops

The CEC also released the first production estimates for winter crops, with the 2023/24 wheat production at 2,1 million tons (up 2% year-on-year). This is mainly due to an expected large harvest in the Western Cape and Limpopo. With this level of wheat production, South Africa will likely need to import approximately 1,5 million tons of wheat to meet its domestic consumption in the 2023/24 season, down from 1,6 million tons in the previous season.

In addition, the 2023/24 barley production is estimated at 380 020 tons, up 26% year-on-year. This will be the largest barley crop in four years and will be supported by an increase in the planted area and better yields. The 2023/24 canola crop is estimated at a record 243 950 tons, up 16% year-on-year, also due to increased plantings and better yields.

Overall, the winter crop looks satisfactory. The focus will soon shift to the new 2023/24 summer crop season that starts in October – Wandile Sihlobo, Agbiz