The Western Cape, which is a major producer of South Africa’s winter crops – wheat, barley and canola – has had favourable rainfall over the past couple of months and the crop in the province is in good shape. The benefit of the rainfall is even clear on dam levels in the province, which on 21 September 2020, averaged 78% compared to 67% in the corresponding period last year (see here).

On 29 September 2020, the Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) will release its second production forecast for winter crops, which will be un update from last month’s assessment. Last month, the CEC data showed that South Africa’s 2020/21 wheat, barley and canola production could increase by 28% y/y, 46% y/y, and 29%, respectively, to 1.96 million tonnes, 505 215 tonnes and 122 820 tonnes, as illustrated in Exhibit 1. This is the largest wheat harvest in a decade and a record harvest in the case of barley and canola.

In this month’s assessment, the CEC will likely keep these estimates roughly unchanged from August 2020 as the weather conditions have remained generally favourable since the release of the first production estimate. In fact, parts of the Western Cape received good rains this past weekend and will likely receive additional rains in the coming week, according to near-term weather forecasts (see here).

Moreover, the weather outlook for the coming months for the Western Cape remains favourable. In its Seasonal Climate Watch released on 24 July 2020, the South African Weather Service indicated an increased likelihood for above-normal rainfall over the south-western regions of South Africa through October. The winter crop planting was delayed this season due to a late start of rains. This means the crop will require moisture for a longer period than the usual months. Fortunately, the Western Cape and other winter crop-producing provinces could have sufficient moisture until the end of October, as the local weather bureau forecast rainfall for that province through to October.

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Exhibit 1: South Africa’s winter grains production
Source: CEC and Agbiz Research

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