An average forecast of six trading houses polled by Reuters now pegs the 2013 crop at 11.45 million tonnes. The estimates ranged between 11.3 million tonnes and 11.562 million tonnes. “The drought in the Free State areas, mostly in the white maize areas, brought the average yield down,” a trader said. South Africa’s provinces of Free State and North West, which together produce more than half of the country’s maize, were hit by the dry conditions.
Other traders expected the forecast to remain largely unchanged, saying the impact of the dry weather had already been taken into account in the previous estimates. “At this specific time, the farmers are actually harvesting a bit more. They are getting better yields,” said another trader. The government Crop Estimates Committee was due to release its fourth production forecast of this year’s summer crops output on Thursday. South Africa is the biggest maize producer on the continent and exports to its neighbours as well as to overseas markets such as Mexico, South Korea and Italy.