Somewhat buried in a recent USDA update on the corn situation in South Africa are some interesting statistics on center pivot irrigation in South Africa. It’s a region where climate change is projected to have very negative effects on rainfed corn, so the trend towards irrigation could represent an important adaptation response, especially if it continues:
Irrigated corn area in South Africa has more than doubled during the past 12 years. It has increased from 100,000 hectares in 2000/01 to 240,500 hectares in 2011/12, as shown in Figure 5. Irrigated corn area in South Africa is also dependent on corn price, with the 2005/06 irrigated corn area being reduced by 73,000 hectares from the previous year when corn prices were low in 2005/06. In contrast, corn prices this year have been high and USDA/FAS forecast the 2012/13 irrigated corn area to be greater than last year’s record irrigated corn area of 240,500 hectares. By assuming average irrigated corn yields at 10-tons/hectare on 250,000 hectares of irrigated corn, USDA/FAS-Washington estimates the 2012/13 irrigated corn output to be nearly 2.5 million tons, or about 20 percent of South Africa’s total corn output of 12.5 million tons.