Crop Explorer - Commodity Intelligence Reports - Southern Africa

Aug 11 2023 | South Africa’s Agricultural Sector Braces for an El Niño Drought for the Upcoming 2023/24 Crop Season
After three years of favorable weather conditions caused by a “triple-dip” La Niña, South Africa’s agriculture sector braces for a possible El Niño drought which could reduce corn production in South Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region during the 2023/24 crop season.

May 4 2023 | South Africa Soybean Area Rapidly Increases
South Africa’s soybean production for marketing year (MY) 2022/23 is estimated at a record 2.7 million metric tons (mmt), up 0.1 mmt (2 percent) from last month and up 0.5 mmt (23 percent) from last year. Area is estimated at a record 1.2 million hectares (mha), unchanged from last month, but up 0.5 mha (23 percent) from last year.

Feb 9 2022 | South Africa Corn: Favorable Production Prospects from Beneficial La Niña Rains during Planting Season for MY 2021/22
South Africa’s grain belt received above average rains during the corn planting season from October through early January. Timely arrival of seasonal rains provided favorable crop establishment and boosted corn production prospects for the marketing year (MY) 2021/22 season (Figures 1-2). Satellite-derived Normalized Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Percent of Average Seasonal Greenness (PASG) measurements also confirm early crop emergence and above-average crop conditions by mid-January (Figures 3-4). USDA forecasts South Africa’s 2021/22 corn output at 17.0 million metric tons, harvested area of 3.0 million hectares, and the forecast yield of 5.67 tons per hectare is near the 10-year trend yield (Figure 5).

Jul 27 2021 | Favorable Production Prospects for South Africa’s 2021/22 Wheat Crop
National crop production prospects are favorable due to beneficial conditions in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Western Cape production comprises nearly 50 percent of total national output and over 90 percent of South Africa’s rainfed production (Figure 1). Widespread May rainfall boosted soil moisture levels and enabled most dryland farmers in Western Cape province to plant on time.

Sep 14 2020 | Tanzania: Excessive Rains Reduce 2020/21 Cotton Prospects
Tanzania’s main cotton region in the northwest received excessive rainfall during the entire growing season, and potential yields were reduced from floods, waterlogging, fertilizer leaching, and increased insect pressures. USDA estimates 2020/21 cotton production at 375,000 480-lb bales, down 220,000 bales (-37 percent) from last year’s record output. Above-average rainfall during the planting season caused flooding and poor plant establishment which also reduced cotton area to 450,000 hectares (ha), or down 150,000 ha (-25 percent) from last year’s record area.

Apr 15 2020 | Bumper Corn Harvest Expected for South Africa
South Africa’s 2019/20 corn production is forecasted at 16.0 million metric tons (mmt), up 4.2 mmt from last year and down 1.6 mmt from the 2016/17 record crop. Corn yield is forecasted at 5.3 metric tons per hectare (t/ha), up 17 percent from the 5-year average and down 9 percent from the 2016/17 record yield of 5.9 t/ha. This year’s favorable corn yield forecast is due to the corn belt receiving average to above-average rains from December through March. These abundant rains also occurred during the critically important pollination and grain-filling crop stages which helped to boost yields for several major corn-producing districts in the west. Seasonal rainfall in the west was also ranked as the wettest 3-month growing period since 1981 and crop yields in some western districts are expected to exceed record levels (Figures 1-2).

Sep 12 2019 | Severe Drought Curtails Hydropower Production in Zambia and Zimbabwe
The 2019 drought in southern Zambia was the driest rainy season (October through April) since 1981 and it covered most of the Lake Kariba’s drainage basin in the southern half of Zambia and northeastern Zimbabwe (Figure 1). The well below-average rainfall during the 2018/19 rainy season did not recharge the Kariba reservoir and current water levels (August 30, 2019) are the lowest since July 1996. Similar low water levels in July occurred during 1993-97, 2005-07, and 2015-16 (Figures 2-3).

Sep 12 2019 | Severe Drought Reduces 2019 Corn Production in Zambia and Zimbabwe
Zambia and Zimbabwe corn production for MY 2019/20 is estimated at 2.0 and 0.77 million metric tons (mmt), respectively, down 33 and 41 percent from the 5-year average due to a severe drought in both countries. The 2019 drought did not reduce production as much as the 1992 drought, when production reductions for Zambia and Zimbabwe were 66 and 80 percent below the 5-year average. In addition, corn production reductions during the 1992 and 2019 droughts were most severe in the Southern province of Zambia where outputs were 93 and 84 percent, below the 1992 and 2019 5-year averages (Figures 1-2).

Jul 2 2018 | South Africa’s 2017/18 Corn Yields Reach Second Highest on Record
South Africa’s 2017/18 corn yield of 5.09 metric tons per hectare (t/ha) is the second highest on record, following last year’s record yield of 5.86 t/ha. Total corn output for 2017/18 is estimated at 13.5 million metric tons (mmt), down 4.1 mmt from last year’s record harvest of 17.6 mmt, but up 0.8 mmt from the 5-year average of 12.7 mmt. The favorable 2017/18 corn yield is due to abundant rainfall during the critical pollination and grain-filling stages from January 21 through the end of April and due to improved seed varieties that perform well under drier conditions and higher plant populations.

Feb 21 2018 | Severe Drought in the Western Cape Reduces South Africa’s 2017/18 Wheat Output
South Africa’s Western Cape province experienced a severe drought during the 2017 wheat growing season, and wheat yields and output were reduced by more than 25 percent from the previous year’s crop. South Africa’s 2017 drought was most severe in the primary wheat growing areas in the Western Cape, where over 90 percent of national dryland wheat production is grown and approximately 50 percent of South Africa’s total wheat production occurs

Jun 20 2017 | Madagascar Rice: Severe Drought Lowers Production
Madagascar’s 2017/18 rough rice production is estimated at 3.5 million metric tons (mmt), down 0.2 mmt from last year and down 0.41 mmt or 11 percent from the 5-year average. The estimated output is below the 5-year average due to a severe drought in the central and northern regions of the country where nearly 80 percent of Madagascar’s rice is grown (Figures 1 and 2). Area is estimated at 2.2 million hectares (mha), down 0.2 mha from last year due to the drought. Seasonal rainfall during the first half of the rice growing season (November 2016 through February 2017) was the lowest in the past 36 years. The drought in the central and northern parts of the country reduced planting and significantly reduced yields. In addition, cropland was flooded in the north and northeast when Cyclone Enawo, the largest cyclone (Category 4) to strike Madagascar since 2004, hit landfall in early March 2017.

Jan 30 2017 | South Africa: Near Record Yields Expected for the 2016/17 Wheat Crop
South Africa's 2016/17 wheat production is estimated at 1.88 million metric tons, up 436,000 tons from last year's output. Harvested area for 2016/17 is estimated at 508,000 hectares, up 26,000 hectares from last year. Yield is estimated at a near-record of 3.69 tons per hectare due to favorable rains and near-record yields in Western Cape Province where over 90 percent of the dryland wheat is grown (Figure 1). South Africa tends to achieve record yields when the Western Cape province attains record yields from favorable rains and weather (Figure 2).

Jun 24 2016 | El Niño Impacts on 2015/16 Crop Yields
The 2015/16 El Niño was one of the strongest on record and some parts of the world experienced record dryness. In South Africa’s corn belt extreme drought prevented farmers from planting nearly 1 million hectares of corn, and total corn output was reduced by nearly 50 percent from the 5-year average. In contrast, Australia’s wheat belt was expected to experience a drought from the same El Niño, but wheat yield for Australia was close to the 5-year average.

May 26 2016 | South Africa: Trip Report on Crop Assessment Travel and Drought Monitoring Tools
Personnel from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and USAID’s FEWSNET (Famine Early Warning Systems Network) project traveled within South Africa’s corn-belt from March 7-11, 2016 to validate satellite imagery products used to monitor regional droughts, assess crop conditions and estimate crop area. One of the most striking features observed while traveling in early March was the large spatial extent of parched fields with bare soils in the western corn belt where crops should have been fully grown, tasseled and in various grain-filling stages. Fields with bare soils and failed crops in early March provided a unique opportunity to validate the effectiveness of spatial products for drought monitoring and crop condition assessments. Brief performance summaries for key drought monitoring tools are presented below, especially those spatial products that specialize in measuring drought severity, duration and spatial extent, as well as products that measure relative crop conditions and crop yield potentials.

May 26 2016 | El Niño Drought Reduces 2015/16 Corn Prospects in South Africa
A severe drought induced by one of the strongest El Niño’s on record reduced the 2015/16 forecast for corn production in South Africa by nearly 50 percent from the 5-year average. The center of the drought occurred in western Free State and North West provinces, where 60 percent of South Africa’s corn is typically grown (Figures 1-2). The drought was most intense during the planting season (October through December) which hampered planting and significantly reduced planted area. Many parched fields with no crop or vegetation cover were then prone to dust storms and wind erosion by early February, reminiscent of the dust storms in the US prairie states during the 1930’s Dust Bowl (Figure 3).

Mar 2 2016 | Northwest Africa: 2016/17 Winter Grains Prospects for Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia
Annual precipitation in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia fluctuates greatly. These countries struggle for moisture because they at the southern extent of storm systems, traveling east from the Atlantic Ocean. The vast majority of the grain crops in Northwest Africa are grown on rain-fed land or drylands, less than 10 percent are irrigated. Wheat is grown in the most favorable regions while barley is grown in the more marginal areas farther inland. The arable lands closest to the coast are usually the best wheat producing areas because they receive the most rainfall. The arable regions of Northwest Africa are quite small in comparison to the sizes of the individual countries. Growing areas extend up to 125 miles from the coast in Morocco but no more than 50 to 75 miles in Algeria and Tunisia. The Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert occupy most of the land to the west and south of the crop areas. Due to weather fluctuations, a year with “average” production seldom occurs in any of the countries of Northwest Africa.

Nov 19 2015 | Drought Delays 2015/16 Corn Planting in South Africa
Sparse rainfall during October and early November has delayed planting in South Africa (Figure 1). Corn planting has been delayed by 40 days or more in the eastern corn belt of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and eastern Free State provinces. Planting typically begins in early October after receiving sufficient rainfall to begin planting operations (Figures 2-3). Vegetation conditions were also extremely dry in early November, 2015, indicating that planting progress and plant emergence are behind schedule in the eastern corn belt (Figures 4-5).

Oct 9 2015 | Delayed Winter Rains Reduce South Africa’s 2015/16 Wheat Prospects
Seasonal winter rains for planting wheat were delayed in South Africa’s Western Cape Province during May 2015. Winter wheat in the Western Cape accounts for over 50 percent of South Africa’s total wheat production where wheat is planted in May and harvested in November.

Sep 16 2015 | Tanzania: Mid-season Drought Reduces 2015/16 Cotton Output
Mid-season rains in Tanzania were below average from February through March 2015 which resulted in reduced cotton yields for the 2015/16 Marketing Year (MY) crop. March is when the critical flowering stage begins and it is estimated that the short term drought during March 2015 reduced output by 18 percent from the 5-year average.

Sep 22 2014 | Record Wheat Yields Expected for South Africa’s 2014/15 Wheat Crop
USDA’s September 11 forecast for 2014/15 South Africa wheat production is 1.8 million tons, which is nearly the same as last year’s output. Harvested area for 2014/15 is forecast at a record low 485,000 hectares or 20,000 hectares less than last year’s record low wheat area (Figure 1). Yield is forecast at a record 3.7 tons per hectare, or up 4 percent from last year. Yield increased due to excellent mid-season rainfall and crop conditions in the Western Cape where 90 percent of South Africa’s dryland wheat is produced.

Aug 12 2013 | South Africa’s 2013/14 Wheat Area Remains Low, While Wheat Imports Continue to Rise
USDA’s forecast for 2013/14 South Africa wheat production is 1.7 million tons, down 270,000 tons from last year. Yield is forecast at 3.3 tons/hectare which is slightly above the 5-year average yield of 3.07 tons/hectare, but down 10 percent from last year’s record yield of 3.66 tons/hectare. Harvested wheat area is forecast at 515,000 hectares which is slightly above last year’s low wheat area of 511,000 hectares and close to the first planted area estimate of 515,200 hectares released by South Africa’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) on July 25.

Apr 23 2013 | Below-Average 2012/13 Corn Yields in South Africa Caused by Drought in North West and Free State Provinces
The USDA’s 2012/13 corn production forecast for South Africa was lowered from 13.5 million tons to 12.5 during the past two months, due to a drought in North West and Free State provinces during February and March, 2013. Corn yields in both provinces are expected to be below the 5-year average, with forecast yields being lowest in North West province where the drought was most severe. Although the drought was most severe in North West province, NDVI ((Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) analysis indicates the 2012/13 forecast corn yield of 2.6 tons/hectare will not be as low as yields of 1.8 tons/hectare reported for the province during the more extreme drought year of 2006/07.

May 3 2012 | South Africa faces low corn supply after disappointing seasonal rains
Below-average seasonal rainfall and an untimely dry spell during mid-February through mid-March, 2012 will reduce South Africa’s corn yields and corn supply for the 2011/12 season. The 2011/12 seasonal rainfall was below-average this year even though the La Nina year forecast was above-average rainfall for the region (refer to Figure 1). Above-average rainfall returned to South Africa’s grain belt in late-March, but these rains arrived too late to make any significant improvements to potential yields. In summary, USDA lowered South Africa corn yields last month from 3.75 tons per hectare (T/Ha) to 3.59 T/Ha, which is well below the five-year average yield of 3.77 T/Ha. South Africa will also be facing low corn supplies this year with total corn production forecast at 11.5 million tons (MT); total domestic consumption estimated at 10.6 MT (refer to FAS Annual GAIN report); and carry-over stocks at 1.3 MT at the end of March (refer to SAGIS (South African Grain Information Service)).

Jun 2 2009 | 2009 Zimbabwe Corn Area Assessment
USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) performed a mid-season crop assessment in Zimbabwe from February 23-27 and in South Africa from February 17-20, 2009. The purpose of the trip was to update current crop estimates for both countries and ground truth satellite imagery and various spatial crop models with actual ground conditions.

May 2 2007 | 2007 Crop Assessment Tour Summary in Zimbabwe and South Africa
USDA performed a mid-season crop assessment for South Africa and Zimbabwe from February 19 - March 5, 2007, and in cooperation with United States Agency of International Development's (USAID) FEWS-NET project. The purpose of the trip was to update current crop estimates for both countries and observe how closely various spatial models resemble ground conditions.

May 2 2007 | Severe El Nino Drought Wilts Summer Grain Crops in Southern Africa
A severe El Nino drought caused irreversible crop damage in southern Africa, especially for the countries of South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Nambia, southern Mozambique and southern Zimbabwe (Figure 1). High temperatures and prolonged dryness occurred during January through March, which is when crops in the region reach critical pollination and grain-filling stages. The severe drought is one of the worst droughts to hit South Africa's main corn belt since 1992. In addition, South Africa this year will have to import over one million tons of yellow maize when South Africa is typically considered an export granary for the region.

Oct 19 2006 | South Africa's Wheat Crop Falls Short of Domestic Demand
USDA's October estimate for South Africa's 2006/07 wheat production is 2.19 million tons, up 140,000 tons from last month and up 304,000 from last year. Wheat area is estimated at 770,000 hectares, unchanged from last month, but down 30,000 hectares from last year. Record wheat yields of 2.84 tons per hectare are forecasted due to good seasonal rainfall in the major wheat regions of Free State and Western Cape provinces, but total wheat production will again fall short of domestic demand (see Figure 1). South Africa's wheat crop is planted in May/June and will be harvested in November/December.

May 2 2006 | La Nina Delivers Wet and Cold Weather to South Africa's Corn
South Africa's Maize Triangle received above-average rainfall during January, February, and March which followed typical La Nina patterns for the southern Africa region. In addition, March's temperatures were well below-average which reduced heat units and slowed crop development in the grain-filling stages.

Sep 1 2005 | Tanzania: Record Corn Area Increases Production
The USDA August estimate for Tanzania's 2005/06 corn production is at 3.3 million tons, up 70,000 tons from last year. The 2005/06 marketing year output is forecast at a record level due to a record area of 2.97 million hectares. Yield is estimated at 1.1 tons per hectare, which is slightly below the 5-year average of 1.27 tons per hectare. Harvest was recently completed in most parts of the country but it is still ongoing in the southern and northeastern highlands where temperatures are cooler and the growing season is longer.

Mar 2 2000 | Flooding Damage in Southern Africa
Since the beginning of February, southern Africa has been hit by unfavorable weather. Torrential rainfall in early February was followed by a tropical cyclone at the end of the month that brought additional rain and damaging winds. Localized flooding caused significant crop losses and property damage in many parts of the region. Thousands were left homeless and transportation was nearly impossible in the affected areas. With another tropical storm threatening, and Zimbabwes recent release of water from a dam on the Zambezi river, Mozambiques situation will likely worsen in the near term.

Mar 10 2000 | Flooding in Mozambique
The following report on the current flood situation in Mozambique was prepared by the Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division (PECAD). It is also available in pdf format. An earlier assessment of the impact of excessive rainfall in Southern Africa may be found at /pecad/highlights/2000/03/safr_rains.htm.

Aug 25 2000 | Agricultural Situation in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwes agricultural sector is feeling the effect of the countrys serious economic and political problems. The country is suffering from severe fuel and electricity shortages, high inflation and unemployment (both above 50 percent), an acute shortage of foreign exchange, high agriculture production costs, and a sharp decline in tourism revenue. Perhaps the most serious difficulty is the land reform polices of the government of President Robert Mugabe, which are being challenged by the political opposition, as well as labor and farm unions.

Nov 14 2000 | South Africa Corn Prospects for 2000/01
South Africas 2000/01 corn crop, now being planted, is estimated at 8.5 million tons, down 20 percent from last years bumper crop. Widespread showers and mild temperatures have created very good planting conditions, but production is expected to decline due to lower forecast area and a return to average yields.

Dec 13 2000 | Zimbabwe: Lower Corn Forecast for 2000/01
Zimbabwe corn production for 2000/01 is estimated at 1.0 million tons, down 17 percent from last month and 41 percent from last year due to lower estimated area. Based on information from Zimbabwe government sources and farm organizations, planted area was revised sharply lower this month to 950,000 hectares, down 34 percent from last year and the lowest since 1991. Area reductions are expected in both the commercial and the communal farming sectors for many reasons, among them the GOZs disruptive land redistribution program, economic instability, agricultural input shortages, and unfavorably low procurement prices. Yields are also expected to be affected by the problems in Zimbabwes agricultural system. Estimated yield for the 2000/01 crop is 1.05 tons per hectare, almost 17 percent below the 5-year average.

Feb 12 2001 | South Africa Corn Update
Corn production in South Africa is estimated at 8.0 million tons for 2000/01, down 24 percent from last year. Area is estimated at 3.3 million hectares, down 15 percent from last year and the lowest in at least 60 years. The estimated yield of 2.4 MT/Ha is close to the 5-year average but higher than weather-reduced yields in 1997/98 and 1998/99.

Mar 23 2001 | Flooding in Mozambique Has Minor Impact on Grain Production
Continuous heavy rainfall in February and early-March, 2001 led to serious flooding in Zambezia, Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces in central Mozambique [Political Map]. Transportation infrastructure suffered serious damage, and access to the major cities of Maputo and Beira was interrupted. Preliminary government assessments in late February indicated that 27,000 hectares of cash and foodcrops had been lost, mostly in Zambezia Province [FAO - Foodcrops and Shortages Report #1, March 2001]. Despite these losses, the impact on national grain production will be minor. Grain output in 2000/01 is expected to be higher than last year due to increased planted area and favorable rainfall in major production areas. However, yield prospects could deteriorate if excessive rainfall persists through the remainder of the growing season.

Nov 16 2001 | South Africa - Favorable Weather for 2001/02 Summer Crop Planting
Abundant rainfall and seasonal temperatures have created favorable planting conditions for South Africa's 2001/02 summer grains and oilseeds (mainly corn, sorghum, sunflowerseed, soybeans, and peanuts). [Crop Calendar] Widespread showers during July-September boosted pre-season soil moisture, and mostly dry and warm weather in early October was nearly ideal for fieldwork. The summer rainfall season started on schedule in mid-October, and all major summer crop areas (Free State, North West Province, Gauteng, Mpumalanga) received normal to above-normal precipitation for the month. Additional showers in November further increased soil moisture for summer crop establishment, although there were reports of minor flooding in a few areas and possible delays in winter wheat maturity and harvesting in Free State. Scattered showers in the past few days have also improved soil moisture levels in northern and western South Africa, which are important areas for grazing, cotton, orchards, and cash crops.

Dec 21 2001 | Corn Production in Zimbabwe Expected to Decline in 2001/02
Zimbabwe's corn production for 2001/02 is estimated at 1.3 million tons, down 9 percent from last year's poor crop and the smallest output since 1994/95, when an El Nino-related drought had a serious impact on yields. Planted area for 2001/02 is estimated at 1.2 million hectares, down 2 percent from last year due to reductions in the large-scale commercial sector, which historically accounts for about 6 percent of Zimbabwe's total corn area and 25 to 30 percent of total production. Continued political instability and land-ownership issues have prevented many commercial farmers from planting their 2001/02 summer crops. Corn area in the commercial sector is expected to drop by at least 30 percent this year (down from 74,000 hectares in 2000/01) with some sources forecasting an area reduction of more than 60 percent. Similar area reductions are forecast for Zimbabwe's 2001/02 soybean and tobacco crops and the 2002/03 wheat crop, all of which are grown primarily on large-scale commercial farms.

Feb 20 2002 | Zimbabwe: Drought Threatens 2001/02 Summer Crops
A developing drought is threatening 2001/02 summer crop yields across Zimbabwe. Corn, sorghum, cotton, tobacco and other summer crops could all be affected by the abnormally warm and dry weather that has settled over Zimbabwe's main agricultural districts for the last 2 months. These conditions represent a reversal from mid-December, when widespread above-normal rainfall and seasonable temperatures were very favorable for recently-planted summer crops [Crop Calendar]. To date, the yield impact has likely been minor in northern Zimbabwe, where the most productive farmland is located and most of the corn is grown. [Crop Map] However, there is a possibility of moderate to severe yield losses in the poorer agricultural areas located in central and southern Zimbabwe, where rainfall has been very low this month.

May 15 2002 | Zimbabwe: Government Cuts 2001/02 Corn Production Estimate
The Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture recently released its first area and production estimates for the 2001/02 corn crop, which is now maturing and will be harvested over the next two months. According to the report, planted area increased in 2001 to an estimated 1.32 million hectares, up 5 percent from last year, but production dropped by 60 percent to less than 595,000 tons, the second-smallest crop since the catastrophic1991/92 drought. Area increases occurred in the communal and resettlement sectors (up 2 and 89 percent, respectively), while planted area dropped by 6 percent in the small-scale commercial sector and declined for the third consecutive year in the large-scale commercial sector (down 16 percent from 2001/02). These area changes reflect the ongoing efforts by the Zimbabwe Government (GOZ) to confiscate farmland from commercial growers and redistribute it to landless settlers, a policy the GOZ recently reaffirmed and strengthened.

Jun 17 2002 | Southern Africa: 2001/02 Grain Update
Estimated grain production for 2001/02 has been revised for southern Africa due to new information about planted area and the effects of this seasons unfavorable weather. Total corn production for the region (which includes South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana) is estimated at 12.8 million tons, slightly higher than last year's poor crop but not enough to meet the local demand. The grain shortfall, combined with various political, economic and social problems in the region, has resulted in a regional food security crisis which is now being addressed by the international community. The main targets for assistance are those most at risk of hunger, including refugees, displaced farm workers, urban residents, women and children, and HIV/AID victims.

Aug 13 2002 | Zimbabwe: Grain Production Shortfall Will Continue
According to the United Nations (FAO/World Food Program), more than 6 million people are now at risk of hunger in Zimbabwe, and imports of 1.9 million tons of grain will be needed in the current marketing year to prevent starvation. The main reason for the current food shortage is severe drought during the spring of 2002, aggravated by an overall economic crisis. The Government of Zimbabwe's (GOZ) decision to take thousands of successful farms out of commercial production has made the situation worse. Zimbabwe and the entire southern Africa region will feel the economic, political, and social consequences of the land-redistribution policy will be felt for years.. Although the Government's goal of putting Zimbabwes farmland into the hands of indigenous black farmers may have long-term benefits, food production will suffer in the interim.

Oct 20 2002 | Dry Weather Delays Corn Planting in South Africa
South Africa's farmers are beginning to harvest 2002/03 winter crops and plant 2002/03 summer crops. Unseasonably heavy rainfall and mild temperatures in July and August favored winter crop development and boosted pre-planting soil moisture for summer crops. However, the situation took a turn for the worse in September as warm and abnormally dry weather dominated the region. Total rainfall for the month was well below normal in northern Free State, North West, and Western Cape, stressing winter crops in the filling stage. Summer crop planting in many parts of the Maize Triangle was delayed by insufficient rainfall and declining soil moisture.

Jan 14 2003 | Poor Planting Conditions for 2002/03 Corn in South Africa
South Africa's total corn production for 2002/03 is forecast at 8.0 million tons, down 1.5 million from last month and down 1.1 million or 12 percent from last years crop. Last months forecast production estimate was above the 5-year production average, while this months estimate was adjusted below the 5-year production average to account for a reduction in planted area and yield potential caused by dryness during November and early December. Harvested area is estimated at 3.3 million hectares, down 0.3 million from last month and down 50,000 hectares from last year.

Mar 17 2003 | Crop Tour Within South Africa's Maize Triangle
An USDA/FAS crop assessment team was sent to South Africa's Maize Triangle during the last week of February to assess 2002/03 crop conditions. Corn was the main crop surveyed, and the crop tour route covered both the eastern and western regions of the Maize Triangle, as shown in Figure 1.

Mar 17 2003 | Corn Production Time Series Increased for South Africa
South Africas 2002/03 corn production is forecast at 9.0 million tons, up 1.0 million or 12 percent from last month, but down 0.7 million or 7 percent from last years crop. This months production forecast was not increased due to favorable weather, but was increased by approximately 0.5 million tons due to baseline adjustments to the historical time series for the past four years and a 200,000-hectare increase in the area estimate (Figure 1 and Table 1). Area was increased because November planting losses were recovered by replanted fields in December.

May 27 2003 | Irrigated Corn Increases in South Africa
USDA in its May 12 official release estimated South Africas 2002/03 corn production at 9.2 million tons on 3.5 million hectares, indicating that the 2002/03 El Niño did not reduce corn production and yields as severely as the 1997/98 El Niño event when 7.7 million tons of corn was produced on 3.5 million hectares. Cumulative rainfall was below normal for both the 1997/98 and 2002/03 El Niño events, and 2002/03 cumulative rainfall in the eastern portion of the Maize Triangle was even lower than 1997/98 cumulative rainfall (El Niño comparison). However, record irrigated corn area was planted this year which has helped to offset dry land production losses caused by reduced seasonal rainfall from this seasons El Niño.

Sep 3 2003 | South Africa: Dry Conditions for Wheat Crop
South Africas 2003/04 winter wheat crop experienced below normal rainfall during the planting season, especially affecting the main wheat region located in the southwestern portion of Western Cape province, known as the Swartland area extending from Malmesbury to Vredendal. Below normal rainfall from April thru July, 2003 severely stressed vegetation conditions in the Western Cape province, as indicated by the figure below. Wheat in the Western Cape is typically planted from mid-April to mid-June, and below normal rainfall during this period may severely reduce this years yield potential.

Jan 26 2004 | South Africa: Planted Corn Area at Historic Lows
As of January 12, 2004, USDA forecasts South Africas 2003/04 corn production at 8.0 million tons, down 0.9 million from last month, and down 1.7 million from last years crop. Corn area for both commercial and developing sectors is forecast at 3.1 million hectares, down 200,000 hectares from last month and down 550,000 hectares from last year. The current corn area estimate for South Africa is the lowest in over fifty years; dry planting conditions in late December lowered corn area to a level insufficient for domestic needs. Average rainfall from mid-January to March is required to obtain a 5-year average yield of 2.65 tons per hectare. USDAs current yield estimate of 2.58 tons per hectare is slightly below the 5-year average due to reduced potential yields caused by dry weather conditions in December and January.

Mar 31 2004 | Corn Yields Improve for South Africa
USDA's March estimate of South Africas 2003/04 corn production, for both commercial and developing sectors, is estimated at 7.5 million tons, unchanged for the past two months and down 2.2 million or 22 percent from last years crop. Good rains in February and March have improved crop yield potentials from delayed plantings caused by poor rains in November and December. The estimated yield of 2.54 MT/Ha is still below the 5-year average of 2.65 MT/Ha, due to late plantings, a shorter growing season, low soil moisture reserves at the start of season, and lower than average irrigated corn area.

Jun 16 2004 | Zimbabwe Corn Production Below One Million Tons
Zimbabwes 2003/04 corn production is estimated at 900,000 metric tons, down 350,000 tons from last month but up 100,000 tons from last year's 2002/03 crop. Harvested area is estimated at 1.3 million hectares, down 100,000 hectares from last year. The decline in planted area is attributed to shortages of seeds at the time of planting and a severe dry spell during November and early December which destroyed many first plantings. The fast track resettlement program has also reduced harvested area for the large-scale commercial sector from an estimated 162,000 hectares in 1999/00 to 5,000 hectares this year (see graph below). Correspondingly, corn production for large-scale commercial sector, which accounted for approximately 40 percent of the countrys total corn output in 1999/00, is forecast to produce only only three percent of the countrys corn output for 2003/04.

Oct 13 2004 | South Africa's Wheat Yields Near Average
USDA's October estimate for South Africa's 2004/05 wheat production is 2.13 million tons, unchanged from last month but up 585,000 from last year. Planted area increased from 748,000 hectares last year to 850,000 in MY2004/05. The wheat crop was planted in May/June this year and will be harvested in November/December. Yields this year are expected to return to the 5-year average of 2.5 tons/ha, after last years wheat crop suffered from very poor yields caused by dry weather in the Western Cape. USDA's wheat production estimate is slightly larger than South Africa's Crop Estimating Committee's (CEC) second production estimate of 2.05 million tons, released on September 20th, .

Oct 13 2004 | South Africa Releases Final 2003/04 Estimates
USDA's October estimate for South Africa's 2003/04 corn production, for both developing and commercial agricultural sectors, is 8.93 million tons, up 234,000 tons from last month but down 741,000 from last year. USDA's October corn production estimate is consistent with final corn estimates by South Africas Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) released on September 20th. Production estimates by the CEC are based on corn deliveries to grain bins, but FAS' Pretoria office recently reported that grain bin deliveries from March to August 2004 were 8.76 million tons and the CEC may have underestimated the 2003/04 crop by 500,000 tons. USDA's area estimate is 3.2 million hectares, or 200,000 hectares above CEC's area estimate of 3.0 million. This year's area estimates by CEC were the lowest since the 1930s and these low area estimates were not adjusted upwards later in the season which gave a high national yield of 2.97 tons/hectare. In contrast, USDA's yield is 2.79 tons/hectare or slightly above the 5-year average yield of 2.64.

Apr 12 2005 | Bumper Harvest Expected for South Africa
USDA's April estimate for South Africa's 2004/05 corn production is 11.5 million tons, up 0.5 million tons from last month and up 1.8 million from last year's crop. Harvested corn area is estimated at 3.5 million hectares, unchanged from last month and comprised of 3.05 million hectares in the commercial sector and 450,000 hectares in the developing sector. The estimated yield of 3.29 MT/Ha is near the record yield of 3.31 MT/Ha and above the 10-yield trend yield of 3.06 MT/Ha.

Apr 12 2005 | South Africa: 2005 Crop Tour Summary
Two analysts from USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) traveled throughout South Africa's corn-belt from February 21-25, 2005. The purpose of the tour was to assess the current crop conditions, validate two operational crop models developed by USAID's FEWS NET Project, and collect ancillary data from local industry sources. The crop has now reached grain-filling stage and harvesting will begin this month. No major pests or disease problems were reported or observed during the crop travel in late February.

Jan 28 2005 | Record Cotton Production in Tanzania
Tanzania's 2004/05 cotton production is estimated at a record of 500,000 bales, up 265,000 bales from last year.

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