Heavy La Niña rains could lead to limited maize harvest in South Africa

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Increasingly wet conditions in South Africa’s maize-growing regions, brought on by a third consecutive year of La Niña, raise the risk of a smaller maize crop just as the country’s planting season is accelerating, and the decrease in the area planted to maize could have consequences for the importing nations of Asia and Africa.

According to Gro’s Food Security Tracker for Africa, the forecast for maize production in South Africa in 2023 will be down 3% from last year, although production will exceed the 10-year average. It’s still very early in the planting season, however, and the forecast may change in the coming weeks.

Gro connects to teams of all types for short-term and long-term decision-making, in-season monitoring, and climate risk assessments. We also work with the public sector to monitor global food security and the effects of climate change.

Gro’s Food Security Tracker for Africa is a one-of-a-kind interactive tool that displays both real-time data and projections on the supply, demand and price of major crops for 49 African countries.

As the crop enters its critical pollination and grain-filling stages, Gro’s Agriculture-Weighted Climate Risk Navigator for South African maize, as shown in this display, can be followed to monitor the key growth conditions. South Africa’s maize crop is harvested in April and May.

South Africa grows both yellow maize, used mainly for animal feed, and white maize, a staple food. Much of South Africa’s yellow maize is exported to Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea.

Because South Africa is Africa’s largest maize producer and one of the continent’s leading grain producers and exporters, neighboring countries in southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique, count often on its white maize to feed their people.

During years of low South African maize production, southern African countries are forced to import maize, usually from Brazil and Argentina, an exceptional burden on African economies during periods of currency depreciation. .

Due to abnormally wet La Niña conditions last year, South African farmers reduced total maize acreage by 4% year-on-year. Even though total maize yields for 2022 remained stable, the decline in area had a negative impact on production.

Over the past week, South Africa has received heavy rains in most parts of the country.

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