Johannesburg – South African white maize increased to a record as the ongoing drought parched crops whose planting season is nearly over.

White maize for delivery in July gained by the daily R80 limit, increasing 1.9% to R4 324 a metric tonne by midday on the Futures Exchange.

That’s the highest in data going back to 1996 and prices have more than doubled this year. Yellow maize for delivery in March lost 1.4% to R3 580 a tonne on Tuesday, bringing the advance to 65% this year.

“Some of the maize planted in the west will actually die from lack of water and too much heat,” Brink van Wyk, a trader at BVG, said by email.

“The window for planting in the western areas like the Free State and North West provinces is quickly closing now, and still there is no forecast for rain.”

No rain is expected on Tuesday in towns of Welkom, Bloemfontein and Kroonstad in the Free State province, according to data on the yr.no weather website. In the North West towns of Brits and Potchefstroom, there’s no rain forecast.

The two regions account for most of the nation’s crop.

A strengthening El Nino weather pattern is bringing dry conditions to sub-Saharan Africa, prompting the national weather service to predict below-normal rainfall for the next four months.

During the 2016 season, farmers in South Africa will reduce plantings of the grain to the lowest since 2011 because of poor rains, according to the Crop Estimates Committee.

A drought in the previous season cut the harvest to the smallest since 2007.

 

Source: White maize climbs to 1996 record in SA | Fin24