Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The commercial production of winter cereals for 2016’s past season is now expected to be greater than forecast a month ago, according to data released on Thursday by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ crop estimates committee.

Winter wheat production, the committee says, is expected to come in at 1.766-million tonnes, which is an increase of 1.9% — about 32,000 tonnes more than the previous forecast in October.

The increase comes despite late seasonal winter rains. These have delayed wheat planting in the Western Cape, which accounts for about 50% of SA’s wheat production, the US agriculture department’s Foreign Agriculture Service said in October in a commodity intelligence update. Winter wheat is planted in May and harvested in November.

The report forecast a crop of 1.69-million tonnes, which was 60,000 tonnes lower than 2015’s output of 1.75-million tonnes, or 3.67 tonnes per hectare.

The crop estimates committee now expects a yield of 3.47 tonnes per hectare, which breaks down to an expected production in the Western Cape of 969,000 tonnes or 55% of the total. The Free State is expected to produce about 308,000 tonnes (17%) and the Northern Cape 252,000 tonnes (14%), the committee said.

Among other winter crops, the production forecast for malting barley was 309,815 tonnes, which was 3.3% more than the previous forecast of 299,895 tonnes. The area planted to barley was estimated at 88,695ha, while the expected yield is 3.49 tonnes per hectare, the committee said.

Oil seed crop canola was also adjusted higher — by 3,400 tonnes to 112,260 tonnes. The area estimate for canola is 68,075ha, with an expected yield of 1.65 tonnes per hectare.

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