Price of seeds increases as drought takes hold

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Water ditch. Photo is for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Facebook

The lack of countrywide rain has seen the price of sunflower seeds and maize increase by more than R100 a ton in less than a week as planting prospects wither.

That’s according to agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo.

“Although this month started with an optimistic message from the South African Weather Service indicating a possibility of above-normal rainfall in the summer crop growing areas between December 2018 and February 2019, most parts of the country are still dry,” said Sihlobo.

“The expected rainfall last week did not materialise in most regions, thus planting activity has not progressed in the central and western parts of the country.”

Sihlobo said it was getting late in the planting season in western South Africa, particularly for the maize regions, while the sunflower seed crop still had time to plant until early January 2019.

“For now SA has good supplies of all grains and oilseeds that could last us until mid-2019. From there onwards, it will depend on the crop currently being planted – the one affected by dryness,” Sihlobo said.

A statement by Grain SA’s agricultural economist Petru Fourie gave a comprehensive breakdown of troubled areas.

In Mpumalanga, although the optimal planting time for maize and soybeans had passed, some producers were still trying to plant mainly soybeans.

Widespread rain was critically needed in the eastern Free State and production was “largely” outside of the optimal plant window.

The north-west central Free State had seen almost no planting and Fourie expected maize would be planted up to end-December, while producers will try to plant sunflower up to end-January. Conditions are generally very dry and producers will commence with planting when rain falls.

Producers in the North-West Province had only planted some cotton “with no other summer crops that could be planted”.

In Limpopo, Fourie noted, no dryland summer grains had been planted while sunflowers could still be planted until the end of February.

Amanda Watson / The Citizen