South Africa has experienced two months of extremely dry and hot weather — February and March. The impact of harsh weather conditions on agriculture across the country is visible through crop failures. The 2023/24 summer grain and oilseed production is down 21% year-on-year, estimated at 15.8 million tonnes.

We are now at an advanced stage of crop development where there would be minimal to no improvement, even if it rains. Indeed, if one reflects on the past few days, we have received some excellent rainfalls in the eastern regions of South Africa, but this has had minimal benefit on crops. The soil moisture has improved, but this will unlikely improve our summer grain and oilseed production outlook (it is too late). However, the grazing veld for the livestock will be improved somewhat.

The map below illustrates the increased soil moisture levels in the central and eastern regions of South Africa following the recent rains. The improved moisture will help in the winter crop season, which starts at the end of this month in most regions of the country.

Regarding summer grain and oilseed production prospects, South Africa is in a better condition than the rest of the southern African region, where there are massive crop failures and countries have to rely on grain imports.

South Africa has sufficient grain for domestic consumption; if the forecast crop materialises, we hope it does.

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