South Africa’s is projected to keep reaching new records in oilseeds production in a trend that is expected to reduce its dependence on oilseed imports.

The country set a historical record of 2.5M tonnes of oilseeds produced in 2017/18, but that record is expected to be broken immediately in the coming 2018/19 season, when production is forecast to increase to 2.6M tonnes, according to a 30 August US Department of Agriculture (USDA) GAIN report.

Soyabean production in the country increased by 18% to a record 1.6M tonnes in 2017/18 on 787,200ha, propelling overall production upwards despite drops in sunflower seed and peanut production.

Sunflower seed output fell marginally to 858,605 tonnes, while peanut production crashed by 44% to 52,000 tonnes, said USDA.

For the 2018/19 seasons, the USDA forecasts a new record in planted area as well at 1.6M ha, continuing a 10-year positive trend in plantings resulting from greater demand created through an expansion in domestic soyabean processing capacity.

The larger oilseeds planting area came partially at the expense of corn planted area, with corn farmers switching to oilseeds – particularly soyabean – due to low corn prices stemming from large carryover stocks.

The expected record production was also poised to lead to the highest recorded South African oilseed crush in 2018/19 at 2.2M tonnes, 5% more than the estimated 2.1M tonnes crushed in 2017/18.

Oilseed meal imports were consequently expected to fall by 15% from 335,000 tonnes to 285,000 tonnes as the country was projected to produce 1.4M tonnes of meal, said USDA.

The forecast oilseed meal import would mean that imports would contribute less than 20% to local South African consumption, marking a significant decrease from the 70% seen 10 years ago.