Dry weather causing problems in South Africa

  • Corn growing in a field. Photo: Chris Radburn (PA Archive)

    Popcorn is just one of the yummy foods produced from corn. Photo: Katie Collins (PA Archive)

    Weather forecast for Johannesburg over the next week. Photo: WeatherPro (see http://www.weatherpro.eu)

    Weather forecast for Bothaville over the next week. Photo: WeatherPro (see http://www.weatherpro.eu)

  • Dry weather causing problems in South Africa
    21.02.2013 16:04


    Most of the corn, also known as maize, that we use on a daily basis in the UK comes from South Africa, but some also comes from the Americas. It is used in lots of our favourite dishes such as tortillas, cereal and cakes and we often use it as a vegetable, whether it’s corn-on-the-cob, tinned sweet corn or popcorn. In the UK we tend to take it for granted and assume it will be in the supermarkets, but the dry weather in South Africa may mean that it is not as widely available later this year.

    The main corn growing regions of South Africa are the Free State and North West provinces. Johannesburg in the Free State produces 40% of the corn and the second largest crop comes from Lichtenburg in the North West Province. Unfortunately, due to the dry weather conditions, both areas are in a drought and so the crops are not growing as quickly and are not as healthy as normal. 

    Over the past week the price of corn for delivery in July has risen by 3.7%, which is biggest increase since July 2012. This is due to companies realising the crop will not be as good as usual. Last year, the crop was brilliant due to the La Nina Southern Oscillation; which brings wetter than normal conditions to the region between December and February. However, this year the Southern Oscillation is neutral, balanced between La Nina and El Nino, and so the conditions are fairly stable and dry. In contrast, in west Africa, where cocoa is grown, the La Nina conditions caused huge worry, but the current drier weather has lead to a drop in the price as the production has increased dramatically. 

    High pressure is expected to remain around South Africa for the foreseeable future, keeping settled and dry conditions across the region. MeteoGroup is forecasting plenty of hot sunshine for the next 2 weeks in both Johannesburg and Lichtenburg with no more than a 10% chance of rainfall, so it is unlikely the prices will reduce any time soon. 

    By: Sally Webb