A few tips for crop farming in South Africa

A few tips for crop farming in South Africa. Image credit: AdobeStock

A few tips for crop farming in South Africa

(Partner Content) As one of the most prominent economies in Africa, South Africa is rapidly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Their agriculture sector did a great job maintaining positive growth even in the pandemic crisis.

A few tips for crop farming in South Africa

A few tips for crop farming in South Africa. Image credit: AdobeStock

South Africa has two main climatic regions: the Mediterranean and semi-desert inland. They are scattered with unique microclimates, which partly explain such a varied and prolific agricultural sector along with rich soil and topographical conditions. 

The inland valleys in the coastal regions are fertile producers of deciduous fruits such as apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears, and cherries. Today, the Western Cape in South Africa accounts for more than 60 percent of total fruits exports in SA, which is the second-largest exporter in the world. Their primary export market is a significant competitive advantage. A bright future is also predicted for growers of alternative pomegranates. Also, South Africa is the sixth-largest wine producer in the world. South Africa’s favorable climatic and soil conditions make it home to lots of wineries.

Experts predict that agriculture will play a massive role in ensuring complete economic recovery and providing more jobs to the locals. South Africa’s agriculture sector is among the most diverse globally, consisting of both private and government farming systems with meat, grain, vegetable, rice, soybean, and wheat production. It has proven to be the country’s economic backbone, with a growth rate of about 13.1 percent in 2021. So, in this article, we will provide a few tips for crop farming in South Africa. 

Crops to choose to grow in South Africa

Due to the large variation of SA’s climate conditions, the production of field crops is divided into two primary categories: winter cereals and summer crops. Some common summer crops include soybeans, maize, sorghum, sunflower seed, and groundnuts, which are cultivated in the rainfall regions. Also, popular winter cereals include canola, wheat, and malting barley.

In 2019, South Africa produced over 10 million metric tons of maize. Also, the total area used for its cultivation increased by 33 percent due to good rainfall. Maize accounts for over 80 percent of SA’s local food crop product. 

In recent years, SA has made lots of investments in the production of soybeans. It is produced all over the country. However, the production takes place mainly in Mpumalanga and Free State provinces. Its production increased by about 40 percent in 2021. 

Free State province was the highest producer of sunflower seeds in 2019/2020 with over 390 thousand metric tons. This is more than 50 percent of the total South Africa commercial production. Of all the nine SA states, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape produce a negligible amount. 

Sorghum is mainly grown in dry areas, especially on heavy clay and shallow soils. South Africa produces about 100,000 to 180,000 tons of sorghum every year. Mpumalanga and Free State provinces are the most significant contributors to sorghum production. 

In South Africa, groundnuts are mainly cultivated in the western regions. More than 58 percent of the production occurs in the north-western and western Free State, 3.6 thousand tons in the Northern Cape, and 29 percent in North West Cape. In 2019, the total production of groundnuts in SA was about 54 thousand metric tons.

Wheat is produced all over South Africa, specifically on dry land or under irrigation. Due to the high amount of wheat produced in the Free State region, it was often referred to as the breadbasket of the country. However, in recent times, the Western Cape has overtaken the Free State province in the cultivation of wheat, accounting for over half of the country’s total production. 

Due to the growing demand for canola oil, local farmers have begun producing the crop in large quantities. Previously, it was less profitable than wheat, and for this reason, farmers primarily cultivated it as a rotation crop. It helps to break disease cycles of wheat. 

Barley is cultivated in SA mainly for malting, as most of it is sold to ABinBev. It is mostly grown on the drylands of the Southern Cape. 

Crop management tips


The quality of the soil is a very important factor when thinking about any form of farming. Due to the varieties of climate conditions in South Africa, there are also different soil qualities. Different parts of the country specialise in producing certain crop types due to their climate and soil. So, before you engage in any type of farming, it is important to check the soil fertility level. Also, it is better to practice no or little tillage in regions of heavy rainfalls to prevent excess erosion of the soil. Furthermore, you will need to plan field zoning before starting farming to make crop rotation easy. 


As we have mentioned above, South Africa has a variety of climate conditions, which implies precipitation varies from region to region. Agriculture relies heavily on water. So, in areas with little rainfall or cases of drought, it is crucial to use irrigation systems that bring water from nearby streams and rivers. 


One of the factors that determine a good farm yield is the health of the seeds. So, farmers can test a sample of their seeds to ensure that they will germinate, producing good crops. Also, they need to select the best seeds for planting to make sure that their crops’ yield will increase significantly.

Agriculture in South Africa provides many locals with jobs and strengthens the country’s economy even in times of crisis. There are lots of profitable crops to cultivate and produce due to their diverse climate conditions and rich soil types. Also, farmers can cultivate around the year and make profits since there are a variety of crops that can grow in the winter and summer.