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28 Oct 2019

Grain producers in the Western Cape suffered damage due to unnatural dry weather conditions this year. The season kicked off well but turned sharply since June. With little rain and warm weather, the crops dwindled. According to the 3rd crop estimate, wheat production dropped from 1.86 million tonnes in 2018 to 1.69 million tonnes in 2019. Although more hectares were planted in the Western Cape, year-on-year production decreased by 208 000 tons. This is the third season out of five production years that did not go well due to climatic conditions. Domestic production also appeared very promising at the start of the season but dry and warm conditions in August and September dampened yields and also reflected in the downward adjustment within the crop forecast. The fall in yields put financial pressure on producers due to prices not allow for this at import parity levels. The pressure is further increased given the already high debt levels. Grain SA is very concerned about the financial position of producers due to the impact of the drought.

In terms of barley production there is great concern as a large quantity of the harvested barley is not obtaining malt grading and must therefore be marketed and utilised as feed. This is a direct result of weather conditions which affected quality. If malting barley intake falls below current specifications, it is problematic for producers who will receive far lower prices for barley.

A highlight of the season is the new wheat grading specifications which were implemented by industry. Within the wheat market, a large number of grain delivered, fall within the new super grade specification due to high protein levels, which as a result earn producers 2% above SAFEX wheat prices. It does offer some support in the dry season and Grain SA is grateful that producers can take advantage of this.

The summer rainfall region's planting date for summer crops has kicked off to the east of the country without any significant rainfall to support it. Producers hope and trust that the rain will come on time to experience a good season with sufficient production.

In terms of drought, there is minimal assistance from funding structures that specifically assist grain producers. It once again demonstrates how absolutely necessary aid is in terms of crop insurance for producers, which will ensure their survival in the difficult and challenging climate cycles by meeting financial obligations.

The shortage of rain and the warm weather experienced was very disappointing for producers. Although the extent of damage varies between crops and areas and the yield potential has been affected, producers are keeping their heads high with hope in their hearts for the next season.


Issued by: 
Grain SA Communications

Further enquiries:
Dirk Strydom, Manager: Grain Economy & Marketing, Grain SA
086 004 7246 | dirk@grainsa.co.za