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Commodity Intelligence Report
January 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).

South Africa Wheat Production, Area and Yield

Figure 1. South Africa Wheat Production, Area and Yield

Wheat Yields for South Africa and Western Cape

Figure 2. Wheat Yields for South Africa and Western Cape

Western Cape accounts for approximately 57 percent of South Africa?s total output and Free State and Northern Cape provinces account for 16 and 14 percent, respectively (Figure 3).  Seasonal rainfall and wheat yields are highly variable in Western Cape where most of the dryland crop is grown. Since most of South Africa's dryland production is in Western Cape, it is the primary province to monitor potential yields from rainfall analysis and relative vegetation conditions as measured by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI).

South Africa 2016/17 Wheat Production

Figure 3. South Africa 2016/17 Wheat Production

The USDA/FAS Crop Explorer web application monitors seasonal rainfall in Western Cape where wheat is sown from April through May and harvest is from October through November. Cumulative rainfall was near average during the 2016 growing season and rains were most favorable when flowering and grain-filling stages occurred from mid-July through the end of September (Figure 4).

Cumulative (WMO) Precipitation in Western Cape

Figure 4. Cumulative (WMO) Precipitation in Western Cape

Although rains were favorable, the cumulative amount does not indicate a record crop. Seasonal crop conditions for Western Cape as measured by NDVI were above-average from late-July through September and near-record wheat yields are expected if other adverse factors such as pests and diseases did not prevail in the Western Cape (Figure 5). The wheat production report of December 20, 2016 by South Africa's Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) confirmed that a near-record wheat yield of 3.30 tons per hectare is expected for the Western Cape Province.

2016 Vegetation Conditions (NDVI) for Croplands in Western Cape

Figure 5. 2016 Vegetation Conditions (NDVI) for Croplands in Western Cape


Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are also available at PSD Online.

Related Links at FAS

PSD Online

Crop Explorer

USDA/NASA GLAM (Global Agriculture Monitoring) Viewer for NDVI-MODIS Time Series Graphs

South Africa Grain and Feed Annual Report (March 26, 2016) from the USDA/FAS GAIN (Global Agricultural Information Network) reporting system

Commodity Intelligence Reports from USDA/FAS/OGA/IPAD:

October 9, 2015 - Delayed Winter Rains Reduce South Africa's 2015/16 Wheat Prospects

September 22, 2014 - Record Wheat Yields Expected for South Africa's 2014/15 Wheat Crop

August 12, 2013 - South Africa?s 2013/14 Wheat Area Remains Low, While Wheat Imports Continue to Rise


For more information contact Curt Reynolds | | (202) 690-0134
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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