PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA — After dropping to a record-low 29,000 planted hectares in 2017-18, the area planted with sorghum in South Africa rebounded in 2018-19 to 50,500 hectares, according to a June 3 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Despite the increase, the USDA noted that South Africa’s sorghum acreage is still far below the all-time high of more than 300,000 hectares planted in the 1980s.

“As producers switched to more profitable crops like corn and soybeans, sorghum production decreased dramatically over the past two decades,” the USDA said.

The USDA forecasts another dip in sorghum production and acreage in 2019-20, with a 10% drop in output to 150,000 tonnes on 45,000 hectares.

As a result, sorghum imports are expected to double in 2019-20 to 20,000 tonnes. More than 90% of South Africa’s sorghum imports come from the United States.

Sorghum mainly is used for human consumption in South Africa (about 92%), while only 5% goes to animal feed production.