PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA — Due to relatively attractive local market prices after the drought conditions of the previous season, corn planting in South Africa is forecast to increase by at least 10% in 2019-20, according to a Nov. 6 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA estimates that South Africa will plant around 2.9 million hectares of corn this marketing year with production reaching 13.3 million tonnes, which would represent a 13% increase in output over 2018-19.

“Local corn prices are trading at more than 15% higher than a year ago, giving commercial producers an incentive to plant more fields to corn,” the USDA said.

The 2018-19 corn crop was 10% lower than the 13.1 million tonnes produced the prior year, due to inconsistent weather patterns that negatively impacted yields, the USDA said.

“As a result, we estimate that South Africa will import about 500,000 tonnes of yellow corn in 2018-19,” the USDA said.

South Africa is forecast to export about 1.1 million tonnes of corn in 2019-20, a slight increase over the estimated 1 million tonnes of exports the previous year.

South Africa’s main export markets include Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Nambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.