South African farmers are expected to reap a record 14.73 tonnes of maize this season with current harvests indicating robust yields because of good rains, a Reuters poll of five traders and market analysts showed on Tuesday.

The government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC), which will provide its fourth production forecast for the 2017 crop on Friday, is seen pegging the harvest at 14.73 million tonnes, up 89 percent from the 7.78 million tonnes realized last year when an El Nino-triggered drought hit yields and plantings.

“Harvesting is underway in many areas of South Africa with yields reportedly well above average, which confirms that we are in for a big crop this season,” said Wandile Sihlobo, an economist at the agricultural business chamber.

The market expectations are higher than the record crop of 1981, when 14.656 million tonnes were reaped.

The 2017 summer harvest is expected to consist of 8.747 million tonnes of white maize, the regional staple, and 5.980 million tonnes of the yellow variety, used mostly for animal feed.

Improved weather conditions since last season’s drought have pushed down maize and overall food prices and helped improve the inflation outlook.

The white maize contract ending in July ticked up 0.21 percent to 1813.80 rand by 0820 GMT, far off the record peaks of over 5,000 rand reached 16 months ago.


(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg,; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Ed Osmond)