Frequent showers and warm temperatures during December 2000 maintained favorable soil moisture for vegetative summer crops across the Maize Triangle of South Africa. It was dry in early October as summer crop planting began, but seasonal rainfall (October through December) was normal to above-normal over most of the country, and crop conditions at the end of December were generally better than average. The first 10 days of January have been mostly dry and warm (high temperatures in the mid-to upper 30's C.) with moderate winds. Soil moisture levels are starting to decline, and yield reductions are possible if current conditions extend into February, when summer crops enter reproduction.
Planted area for South Africa's 2000/01 corn crop
is currently estimated at 3.4 million hectares, down 12 percent
from last year. Low prices led many farmers to reduce corn area
and shift to alternative crops. Yield is forecast at 2.5 tons per
hectare, lower than last year but higher than the 5-year average,
and production is estimated at 8.5 million tons. Corn harvesting
normally begins in April and continues for several months. A
revised planted area report from the South Africa government is
expected in January, and the first government production estimate
will be released in February.
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