FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.3 - June 2000 p. 5

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Current Production and Crop Prospects


Position by Region


Far East: The overall prospects for the 2000 wheat crop remain uncertain following drought in major producing countries. In China, several hundred thousand hectares of wheat have been affected by serious drought in main producing provinces, such as Hebei and Shanxi, in the north. This is the fourth consecutive year that drought has affected production. The area under summer wheat is also expected to decline compared to last year. Aggregate wheat output in 2000 is currently forecast at 111 million tonnes, about 2 percent down from 1999. In India, despite a serious drought in several states in western/central parts, which has led to large scale exodus of people and animals, the 2000/01 wheat crop is currently estimated at around 70 million tonnes, similar to last year's record crop. This is mainly due to higher output in main producing states (Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh), where weather conditions were generally favourable, offsetting the decline in drought-affected states. The crop is also largely irrigated. Similarly, a lack of rainfall also affected western and southern provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh in Pakistan. However, most of the crop is irrigated and although yields were affected by dry conditions and lack of assured irrigation in parts, particularly in Sindh province, wheat production in the main wheat producing province of Punjab, which accounts for around 75 percent of aggregate output, was favourable. Latest official reports now indicate that aggregate production will be 22 million tonnes, 2 million tonnes above target. Due to a decline in area planted the wheat crop in Bangladesh is expected to be somewhat lower than the 1.9 million tonnes forecast earlier.

Planting of the main 2000 coarse grains crop is underway or will commence shortly. In India planting coincides with the arrival of the southwest monsoon. Following earlier drought which affected rainfed crops in several states, the early indications are that the arrival of monsoon rains this season will be timely. Monsoon rains extend from June to September and account for 80 percent of total annual precipitation. Also in China, timely rain increased top soil moisture for summer crop planting in main growing areas in the north.

The 2000/01 main paddy season is well advanced in those Asian countries around the Equatorial Belt, but planting in many others is just getting underway in anticipation of a timely monsoon season due to start soon. The outlook for the 2000/01 paddy output is mixed since some countries are striving to increase production while others have instituted policies designed to curb rice output. In addition, low prices of rice, compared to other crops, could encourage farmers to cut rice area in favour of more remunerative alternatives.
In Indonesia, harvesting of the main-season rice crop in Java and South Sumatra is in full swing and is expected to be completed in June, while planting of the secondary crop will commence shortly after. The latest official forecast for the season is about 49 million tonnes, down by 1 million tonnes from the previous season and 2 million tonnes below the target. The shortfall reflects a reduction in area and difficulties caused by rains during harvesting. The main-season paddy crop in Malaysia is also being gathered and output is expected to be about 2.1 million tonnes, close to the five-year average.

In China, planting of the early rice crop, the first and smallest of the three rice crops grown in the country, has been completed but the area is reported to have contracted by about 6 percent. Sowing of the intermediate crop is expected to be concluded soon and its area could expand slightly. Overall, the area under rice in the 2000/01 season is forecast to shrink by about 2 percent. Planting of the 10th Month crop in Viet Nam is about to start, with the Government forecasting a 4 percent reduction in the area. However, because yields are anticipated to show a 1.5 percent improvement, output is only projected to contract by about 2.5 percent. The Government in the Philippines plans to boost the use of high yielding rice seeds through increased distribution to farmers. Planting of the main season crop, currently in progress, should continue through June and total paddy output for the 2000/01 season is expected to expand slightly from the previous season. However, a conflict between the Government and rebels in Mindanao, which accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of the country's paddy production, could affect planting in this region. Planting of the 2000/01 main-season crop in Thailand is underway and is expected to continue through August. The Government is forecasting a slight decline in paddy output based on the expectation that weather conditions during the planting period will be less favourable than last year. Total paddy production in 2000/01 is forecast at 23.3 million tonnes, only slightly down from the previous season. In Japan, planting of the 2000 rice crop is underway. The Government of Japan has announced a 2.7 percent cut in support prices to about 252 yen per kilogram, but no increase in the rice land targeted for diversion. As a result, the area under rice is expected to remain at last year's level of about 1.8 million hectares. In the Republic of Korea, where planting has also started, the Government has set a paddy production target of about 7 million tonnes in 2000 or 3 percent lower than the actual 1999 output. In Cambodia, seedling transplanting for the main paddy season is progressing under generally good conditions. Information on farmers' planting intentions is still lacking. The country is being assisted by Japan to expand irrigated area by about 20 percent by 2003 to boost rice production.

In India, planting of the Kharif main crop for the 2000/01 season is expected to start soon, assuming that the southwest monsoon rains arrive on time. Overall, the Government has set a paddy output target, including Rabi, of about 135 million tonnes or 2 millions more than the previous season. However, the recent removal of fertilizer subsidies could result in low fertilizer application and negatively influence yields. In Bangladesh, planting of the Aus crop, the first and smallest of the three paddy crops for the 2000/01 season, is virtually completed, while planting of the Aman crop, which is just getting underway, should continue until August. However, information regarding rice area is not yet available. In Pakistan, the drought in the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan and water shortages in the Pujab Province, could have unfavourable implications for the country's overall paddy output. For instance, it is reported that some farmers in Sindh were unable to start their paddy nurseries on time, which is delaying the transplanting of the seedlings, normally due around this time of the year. Elsewhere in Asia, the 2000/01 paddy season awaits the arrival of the monsoon rains.

World Cereal Production - Forecast for 2000

    Wheat Coarse grains Rice (paddy) Total
1999 2000 1999 2000 1999 2000 1999 2000
  ( . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . million tonnes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . )
Asia 259.7 259.9 213.9 212.9 547.9 543.1 1 021.4 1 015.8
Africa 14.9 13.3 77.0 78.6 17.6 17.0 109.5 108.9
Central America 3.1 3.2 28.7 29.2 2.3 2.4 34.1 34.8
South America 19.0 18.6 58.9 61.8 21.2 19.7 99.1 100.2
North America 89.5 85.3 290.8 300.6 9.5 9.1 389.8 394.9
Europe 178.4 187.2 201.0 215.1 3.2 3.2 382.5 405.5
Oceania 24.3 23.0 8.9 9.6 1.4 1.1 34.6 33.6
WORLD 588.8 590.5 879.2 907.8 603.1 595.6 2 071.1 2 093.9
          (403) 1/ (398) 1/ (1 871) 2/ (1 896) 2/
Developing countries 275.3 276.5 365.7 368.2 576.7 569.9 1 217.7 1 214.5
Developed countries 313.5 313.9 513.5 539.7 26.4 25.7 853.4 879.3

Near East: Continued drought conditions have affected crop production in most parts of the Near East. In Afghanistan, in addition to the adverse effects of continued civil strife and short supply of agricultural inputs, drought in much of southern and central parts has affected production of 2000 winter cereals, to be harvested from May. In Iraq, continued drought conditions and shortages of agricultural inputs are expected to severely affect grain production. In Jordan, despite some beneficial rains in the winter cropping season, insufficient rains have affected agricultural production in several parts. Also in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a recurrence of widespread drought this year again threatens crops, though the impact on wheat is likely to be less severe than anticipated earlier. Latest indications point to an output of around 9 million tonnes, close to last year's reduced level. The country's paddy production in 2000 is also expected to remain reduced due to the prevailing adverse weather conditions. In contrast to the situation elsewhere in the Near East, a recovery in cereal production is expected in Turkey due to favourable growing conditions.

CIS in Asia: In the eight CIS countries in Asia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) winter cereal crops (mostly wheat) on irrigated lands are developing satisfactorily, but rainfed crops have been stressed, particularly in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The area increased somewhat in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan but remained stable or declined in most other countries. In Kazakhstan, the largest producer in the area, the bulk of the wheat crop is being planted now. Even if the area sown to cereals increases further in 2000, as planned, a return to normal growing conditions (i.e. a shorter harvest window) could result in somewhat lower yields and larger losses. In addition, infestations of locusts, which were not adequately controled last year, could threaten the crop. FAO tentatively forecasts the 2000 cereal harvest in Kazakhstan at 10.4 million tonnes (1999: 14.2 million tonnes), including 8 million tonnes (1999: 11 million tonnes) of wheat. The aggregate cereal and pulse harvest in these eight countries is tentatively forecast at around 22 million tonnes, compared to 24.4 million tonnes in 1999, with the bulk of the decline expected in wheat and a small reduction also for coarse grains. By contrast, the aggregate area sown to rice is planned to rise, with significantly larger plantings projected in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.


Northern Africa: The outlook for the 2000 wheat crop now being harvested, is mostly unfavourable in the subregion, except in Egypt. Continued dry conditions in March and April have confirmed early concerns about the poor outcome of the crop season. As a result of inadequate rainfall since mid-January, aggregate wheat output for the subregion is now forecast at about 9 million tonnes, which is 20 percent lower than last year's below-average crop. In Tunisia, despite an average area planted, below normal and poorly distributed rainfall in March and April has seriously affected crop yield prospects. As a result, a wheat output of about 815 000 tons is expected, compared to 1.4 million tons in 1999. In Morocco, poor rainfall since mid-January coupled with abnormally high temperatures, resulted in losses of over half of the area planted. As a consequence, production is expected to be sharply reduced and may be just half of last year's drought-reduced output. In Algeria, as a result of poor rains since January, a below average wheat harvest is expected. Production could drop to as much as half of the average. By contrast, reflecting satisfactory growing conditions in Egypt, wheat production is expected to be slightly above last year's good crop of 6.3 million tons.

The subregion's aggregate output of coarse grains in 2000 is forecast at some 8.1 million tons, about 15 percent lower than the previous year's below average production. In Egypt, the 2000 paddy season is underway under generally normal weather conditions. The availability of irrigation water in the next weeks will determine the final area planted.

Western Africa: The first rains were received in March in southern parts of the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, where they permitted planting of the first maize crop. Rains reached northern parts in April, allowing the planting of millet and sorghum. Satellite imagery indicates that the vegetation was generally less developed than average in April and that rainfall remained below average in early May over Nigeria. In Sierra Leone, the resurgence of civil disturbances and the tense security situation prevent most activities at the critical planting period. By contrast, in Liberia, the agriculture sector is improving with rehabilitation programmes underway. In the Sahelian countries, the rainy season started in April in the south of Mali, Burkina Faso and the extreme south of Chad, allowing land preparation and plantings of coarse grains. Plantings will progress northwards following the onset of the rains. Availability of seeds is adequate following 1999 record crops in the main producing countries of the Sahel.

Planting of the 2000/01 paddy crop has started in several countries of the subregion favoured by the timely start of the rainy season. In Nigeria, the largest rice producer in western Africa, it is reported that the Government eliminated a 25-percent fertilizer subsidy that it had re-introduced towards the end of 1999. However, the Government also abolished the import and value-added taxes on all agricultural inputs and since the country imports most of the fertilizers used domestically, the measure could lead to increased use. In Sierra Leone, paddy output is forecast to fall for the third consecutive year. In Liberia, the security condition has generally improved over the last several months, which has enabled the execution of resettlement programmes and distribution of basic inputs to farmers. These developments have enhanced the outlook for agricultural production, including paddy output in 2000/01.
Central Africa: Planting of coarse grains are progressing satisfactorily in Cameroon and Central African Republic. In the Republic of Congo, crop production should increase following improved security situation while agriculture activities remain hampered by civil disturbances in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Eastern Africa: Harvesting of the 2000 wheat crop is complete in Sudan. Output is forecast to recover from the previous year's level but would still be well-below average at an estimated 214 000 tonnes. In Ethiopia and Kenya, the early outlook is uncertain following erratic rains and continued drought in some areas.

Planting of the 2000 main season coarse grains is underway in several countries in the subregion. Early prospects are uncertain. In Ethiopia, the outlook for the 2000/2001 coarse grains crop is uncertain reflecting late and erratic rainfall for the belg season. The 1999/2000 crop, already harvested, was below the previous year due mainly to drought. In Kenya, planting was delayed in parts due to late onset of rains and may affect yields. In Uganda, the 2000 main season coarse grains have benefited from well-distributed rainfall, particularly in south-western and central parts, that was received during late March and April. In Somalia, despite some good rains in April and early May that provided some relief in several parts and caused localized flooding, water and pasture conditions are yet to recover from the effects of the earlier severe drought conditions. In Sudan and Eritrea, the planting of 2000 main season crop is due to start in June.

Southern Africa: Harvesting of the 1999/2000 coarse grains is well advanced. Despite severe flooding and some crop losses due to excessive rains and cyclones over the past months overall prospects for production are favourable. Major maize growing areas in the subregion have generally benefited from the abundant moisture. FAO's latest forecast points to an aggregate coarse grain crop in the subregion of 17 million tonnes, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year. This mainly reflects a recovery of production in South Africa, the main producer in the subregion, where provisional estimates indicate a maize output of 9.64 million tonnes, one-third higher than in the previous year and above average, reflecting plantings and higher increased yields. Production of sorghum is also forecast to increase from the previous year. In Malawi, abundant rains from February to April led to the recovery of the maize crop, affected by earlier dry weather in the main growing areas. Preliminary estimates point to an output of 2.3 million tonnes, only 6 percent lower than the record level last year. In Zimbabwe, the main maize crop area is estimated to be larger than earlier anticipated, and heavy rains in February and March were generally beneficial to the crop. However, despite improved prospects, civil disturbances in the past two months, coupled with shortages of fuel, have disrupted harvesting operations and the final outturn is uncertain. In Mozambique, severe flood damage in southern parts, and a slight reduction in yields in the main growing areas, have resulted in a decline in maize output from the good level of last year to 994 000 tonnes. In Zambia, despite localized floods, abundant precipitation since February benefited the main maize crop. Output is estimated at 918 000 tonnes, 7 percent higher than last year. In Angola, coarse grains output has decreased 6 percent from last year to 500 000 tonnes. This mainly reflects a decline of 8 percent in the main maize crop, which was affected by erratic rains during the growing season. In Swaziland, maize output is estimated at 72 000 tonnes, substantially below the previous year's good crop of 112 000 tonnes, due to excessive rains and floods during the season, as well as a decline of 10 percent in plantings. In Namibia, abundant rains in late March and April, following a dry spell in the first and second dekads of March, benefited the maize and millet crop. Latest information points to a coarse grain output more than double last year's average level. In Lesotho, production of maize is forecast at 116 000 tonnes, 7 percent below last year's about-normal crop. Dry weather at the beginning of the season was followed by excessive rains from February, adversely affecting yields. In Botswana, a larger coarse grains output is in prospects; increased sorghum production more than offset reduction for maize caused by severe floods in eastern and southern provinces.

The paddy season is well advanced in southern Africa but output could be greatly reduced by the weather-related problems in the past months. In Madagascar, the main rice producing country in the subregion, flood-related losses added to what was already shaping out to be a sub-optimal paddy season and current expectations are for a sharp drop in paddy output from the previous year. Mozambique, the other large rice producer in the subregion, was, probably, the country most affected by the Cyclones. The overall prospects for paddy output are unfavourable.

Central America and the Caribbean

Harvesting of the 2000 wheat crop is well advanced in the subregion, particularly in the main growing irrigated areas in the northwest of Mexico. Output is provisionally forecast to be slightly below average at 3.2 million tonnes, reflecting adverse weather at planting and a long dry spell which sharply diminished water reservoir levels, thus contributing to a reduction in the area planted.

In Central America, planting of the 2000/2001 coarse grains has started in most countries with the arrival of the first rains in May. The area sown to maize (the main coarse grain), is expected to be about average in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua, but in El Salvador will likely remain slightly below average, similar to last year. In Honduras, the outlook has improved for the maize crop, and a recovery in production is expected from last year's low level. In Mexico, dry weather persists over most of the country and so far prospects remain satisfactory for the important spring/summer maize crop currently being planted. In the Caribbean, normal rains have resumed in the Dominican Republic benefiting the developing cereal and minor food crops. In Haiti, the maize and bean crops are about to be harvested and average outputs are provisionally forecast. In Jamaica, a long dry spell has seriously affected the country's main foodcrops but no food shortages are reported.

South America

Planting of the 2000 wheat crop has started or is about to start in some countries of the southern areas where heavy rains and flooding in the last few weeks are reported. In Argentina, the rains have somewhat attenuated in late May in some of the large producing areas, thus allowing preparation of fieldwork for crop planting. Planting intentions are provisionally forecast between an average 5.5 million hectares and 5.8 million hectares, but much will depend upon the pattern of the rains. In Brazil, planting is underway and the area planted is expected to be about an average 1.4 million hectares, representing an increase over the 1999 level of 1.25 million hectares. In Chile, planting of the 2000 wheat crop is also underway under generally dry weather and average plantings are forecast. In Uruguay, planting has only just started under generally dry weather, following weeks of heavy rains in April. Average plantings are intended in an effort to recover from last year's severely drought-affected crop. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, land is being prepared for planting of the 2000 winter wheat crop, mostly in the important producing eastern department of Santa Cruz. Dry weather is reported in late May following weeks of heavy rains and some flooding in the area which lasted through the early part of April. In Peru, the bulk of the wheat harvesting is about to commence. Output so far from early harvesting in the period January/March far exceeds that collected in the same period last year. In Colombia, where heavy rains and flooding were reported in April, planting of the first (main) wheat crop continues. Average plantings are tentatively forecast. In Venezuela, planting of the 2000 main season cereal crops has started under normal conditions, and an average area is anticipated.

Harvesting of the 2000 coarse grain crops, principally maize, is underway in the southern areas of the subregion. In Argentina, about 53 percent of the maize crop had been collected by early May, which compares to 56 percent by the same time last year. An above-average output is provisionally forecast. In Brazil, harvesting of the first season maize crop has been virtually completed while planting of the second season crop is well advanced. Output from the first season crop has increased with respect to that of last year and aggregate production in 2000 (first and second season crops) is provisionally forecast at an above-average 33.4 million tonnes. In Chile, harvesting of the maize crop is almost complete and production is expected to recover significantly from last year's drought-reduced output. In Uruguay, a poor maize crop has been collected as a result of prolonged drought. In the Andean countries, in Bolivia, land is being prepared for planting of the winter (second season) sorghum and potato crops. Some difficulties are being encountered in certain areas as a result of the excessive moisture left by the heavy rains and flooding in March. In Peru, harvesting of the main white maize crop is underway. Harvesting of the yellow maize crop is also underway and aggregate output (white and yellow) for the year is tentatively forecast to be slightly above average. In Ecuador, where heavy rains in the last few months, particularly in the capital and surrounding areas, have resulted in landslides and flooding, harvesting of the yellow (main) maize crop is underway. Despite the adverse weather, an above-average output (white and yellow) is tentatively forecast for the whole country. In Colombia, where heavy rains and flooding are also reported, planting of the 2000 maize crop continues and an average area is provisionally forecast. In Venezuela, planting of maize and other minor foodcrops is underway and slightly below-average plantings are expected.

Harvesting of the main-season paddy crops is almost complete in most countries of the subregion but unlike the previous season, paddy output is estimated to have declined. The fall is attributed to the low rice prices at planting time that triggered an area shift out of rice cultivation to more profitable crops. The Government in Argentina is estimating a 40 percent drop in this season's paddy production, compared to last year. In Uruguay, a fall in area and yields could lead to an output contraction of about 18 percent. In Brazil, paddy production could decrease by 5 percent.

North America

In the United States, aggregate (winter and spring) wheat production in 2000 is officially forecast at 60.9 million tonnes, 3 percent down from the previous year. The area of winter wheat to be harvested in 2000 is now forecast at about 14 million hectares, 2 percent down from 1999 and the smallest area since 1971. However, bumper yields, close to last year's record, are expected again. Regarding spring wheat, planting was virtually complete by late May and, if early indications in the USDA's March 31 Prospective Plantings Report have materialized, the area will be down by about 5 percent from 1999 to 7.5 million hectares (see table A. 10). In Canada, the official March seeding intentions report (see table A. 11) points to virtually no change in the overall wheat area in 2000. A sharp increase expected in the area sown to durum wheat would be offset by reduction plantings of other spring wheat. As of mid-May, planting was reported to be progressing at normal to ahead-of-normal pace across most of the main growing areas under generally favourable conditions.

With regard to coarse grains, according to the USDA's March 31 Prospective Plantings Report, no major changes are expected in the areas sown to the main coarse grains crops this year compared to last (see table A.10). A slight increase is expected for Maize, but a decrease for sorghum. Planting of maize had been virtually completed by the time of the USDA May 22 Crop Progress Report, well ahead of the average pace, reflecting favourable planting conditions. However, the persisting spell of exceptionally dry weather is raising considerable concern over moisture availability for emerging/developing crops. Rain in mid-May in the eastern part of the Corn Belt did little to replenish soil moisture reserves, which are reported to be at record or near record lows across most of the main growing areas. Unless significant rains arrive soon throughout the Corn Belt, yield prospects will rapidly deteriorate. However, based on the indicated areas planted, and assuming normal weather conditions return soon and prevail for the remainder of the season, aggregate 2000 coarse grains output in the United States is forecast at 271.3 million tonnes, 3.5 percent up from the previous year. In Canada, early indications in the March seeding intentions report (see table A. 11) point to an increase in plantings of the major coarse grain crops. The barley area is expected to increase by 22 percent to some 5 million hectares, while that of maize, by 14 percent, to over 1.3 million hectares. Reflecting this significant expansion in area, aggregate coarse grains output in 2000 is forecast at some 29 million tonnes, about 9 percent up from 1999.

In the United States, planting of the 2000/01 rice crop is almost complete. According to the March 31 Prospective Plantings report, farmers intended to cut the area under rice to about 1.38 million hectares. This would be down by over 5 percent from the previous season, in response to the substantial decline in rice prices in the preceding season that has fostered a farmers' switch to more lucrative crops. Based on the above intended area, rice output in 2000/01 is officially forecast at 9.1 million tonnes.


In the EC, the outlook for the 2000 cereal crops is generally favourable in most countries. Conditions improved significantly in southern parts in late April and early May following good rainfall. Latest information confirms expectations of a significant increase in aggregate wheat output in the Community after the planted area rose in many of the member states at the expense of oilseeds. FAO forecasts the aggregate crop in 2000 at 105.6 million tonnes, compared to 97.6 million tonnes in 1999. Regarding coarse grains, larger output is also expected this year. Oilseeds have been displaced to make way for increased areas of barley, the major coarse grain crop, and after a recent improvement in moisture conditions in southern parts, increased maize plantings are also in prospect. FAO forecasts the Community's aggregate coarse grains output in 2000 at 105.7 million tonnes compared to 102.2 million tonnes in 1999. Rice planting in Italy, the largest producer in the EC, has been completed under generally favourable weather conditions. The area is estimated at about 221 000 hectares, similar to last year's. However, elsewhere in the Community, the conditions have not been as favourable. Earlier drought conditions in the southern parts of Portugal and Spain may lead to depressed plantings. Overall, output for the EC is forecast to decline slightly from the previous year's level.

Elsewhere in Europe, prospects for the 2000 cereal crops remain mixed. In Albania, cereal production is expected to recover somewhat in 2000 after adverse weather affected output in 1999. In Bosnia Herzegovina, the area sown to wheat is expected to decline further in response to unremunerative support prices; but the area sown to coarse grains (mainly maize) could continue to increase. In Bulgaria, the 2000 wheat output is forecast at about 3 million tonnes, similar to production in 1999. Regarding maize, the major coarse grain crop, latest indications rule out the likelihood of an area increase as was earlier expected. The area planted by mid-May was reported to be some 300 000 hectares, and with the normal planting period ending by late May, the final area is likely to reach about 550 000 to 600 000 hectares, similar to the previous year. In the Czech Republic, the winter wheat area is estimated to have increased this year by about 15 percent to over 1 million hectares. However, yield prospects are somewhat uncertain after unseasonably high temperatures and drought conditions set-in in early May. It is too early to say the likely extent of the damage so far, if any, but if no significant rain arrives by end-May the likelihood of yield reduction will be strong. The spring-sown crops, which are in the early stages of development, are expected to be the worst affected. In Croatia, the area sown to winter cereal crops (mainly wheat) increased sharply, and despite persistent shortages of fertilizer, the outlook is for the 2000 wheat harvest to recover from the poor level of 1999 (0.6 million tonnes). In the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia weather conditions have been generally favourable for the cereal crops and production is wheat is expected to be about 350 000-400 000 tonnes.

In Hungary, prospects for the 2000 cereal crops have deteriorated over the past few weeks due to a period of unusually hot and dry weather. Although it is still too early to know the full extent of the damage it is now uncertain if the expected output of 4.5 million tonnes will be achieved. Also the maize crop that has been sown on an estimated area of about 1 million hectares, is affected by the hot and dry weather, and yields will fall well below average if no significant precipitation arrives soon. Poland has also been experiencing drought conditions in late April and early May which have likely reduced somewhat the earlier potential of the developing cereal crops. However, if sufficient rains arrive soon, the effect could be minimized and the forecast for aggregate cereal production in Poland currently remains at about 26 million tonnes, just marginally above the crop gathered in 1999. Of the total, wheat is expected to account for about 8.5 million tonnes. In Romania, the area sown to winter wheat is estimated at 1.9 million hectares, about 12 percent up from the 1999 reduced level. However, yield prospects are uncertain as much of the crops was reported to have been planted after the optimum date and fertilizer applications and other normal husbandry are expected to be generally less than adequate because of farmers' lack of funds. Moreover, recent unusually hot and dry weather, which has prevailed in a large part of the central European area, is expected to limit yield. FAO tentatively forecasts the 2000 wheat crop in Romania at about 4.5 million tonnes, down slightly from the previous year, despite the larger area, as a reflection of lower average yields projected. Information is still lacking on the full extent of spring sowings, but as of early May, fieldwork was reported to be progressing on schedule. Nevertheless, as for the winter cereals, the potential spring crop output in 2000 will remain limited by farmers' lack of funds for inputs. Recent hot dry conditions are also reported to have affected the Slovak Republic, after earlier favourable conditions for the 2000 cereal crops. Nevertheless, a recovery in cereal output is still expected from the sharply reduced level in 1999. In Slovenia, cereal output is expected to rise by some 20-30 percent this year from the 1999 reduced crop. Weather conditions were generally favourable for winter crops and spring sowings were virtually complete by the beginning of May. The aggregate cereal crop in 2000 is forecast at about 560 000 tonnes.

In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, (Serbia and Montenegro), flooding and persistent water logging in some major producing areas, as well as rapid inflation and shortages of funds, diesel fuel, fertilizers and operational machinery could keep both the area harvested and yields low. Indications are that the wheat area for harvest in 2000 could be less than in 1999. Waterlogging of fields is also hampering spring planting. In addition, the high cost of inputs is expected to keep yields of all cereals depressed. The 2000 grain harvest could be less when last year's barely average 8.6 million tonnes, including 2 million tonnes of wheat. In the Kosovo Province, prospects for the 2000 cereal harvest are generally favourable. The area of wheat is estimated at about 80 000 hectares, which should produce some 240 000 tonnes of grain.

In the Baltics, indications are that the area sown to winter cereals (mainly wheat and rye) for harvest in 2000 recovered sharply. Overwintering conditions have been favourable and the 2000 grain output could recover to about 4 million tonnes (1999: 3.4 million tonnes), including 1.3 million tonnes of wheat.

In the CIS countries west of the Ural Mountains (Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine), the early outlook for the 2000 harvests has deteriorated. Although, in general, winter crops have overwintered well, late frosts and dry conditions have caused crop damage in Belarus, Moldova and southern Ukraine. In the Russian Federation, cold weather and late frosts have also damaged crops while untimely snows in the Urals and Siberia have seriously delayed spring planting. Furthermore, although the tight supply situation and higher cereal prices following two successive years of disappointing harvests offer good incentives to maintain or increase the area sown to cereals, chronic economic problems could continue to undermine yield potential. Nevertheless, early indications are that the aggregate grain harvest in 2000 in these countries could be marginally higher, mainly due to better winter crops in the Russian Federation. Preliminary tentative estimates point to an aggregate cereal and pulse harvest of 99 million tonnes (1999: 91 million tonnes), which could include 50 million tonnes (1999: 50 million tonnes) of wheat and 49 million tonnes (1999: 40 million tonnes) of coarse grains. However, growing conditions and the availability of inputs until the completion of the harvests will determine the actual yields.

In the Russian Federation, provided normal growing conditions prevail until the completion of harvesting, the winter grain harvest is forecast to reach 24-26 million tonnes. Crop condition (with 92 percent reckoned satisfactory or better) is much better than last year and the extent of crop damage by winterkill is well below last year's and below the 5-year average. Spring grain planting is well underway. Provided the area targets are achieved, the 2000 grain harvest, given normal weather, is provisionally forecast by FAO at 70 million tonnes (1999: 60 million tonnes), including 34 million tonnes (1999: 34 million tonnes) of wheat and nearly 31 million tonnes (1999: 25 million tonnes) of course grains. In Ukraine, by contrast, only 70 percent of the winter grain crop is reported to be in satisfactory to good condition, which is less than the level at the same time last year. Spring grain planting (other than maize) is completed; spring planting has been drawn out by a combination of mixed weather, uncertainty about the availability of credit and high prices for inputs. Little fertilizer has been applied. Current indications point to a 2000 cereal and pulse harvest not markedly better than the 27 million tonnes harvested in 1999 (FAO estimate). In Moldova, maize planting is underway; the grain production target is 2.8 million tonnes compared to the 2.2 million tonnes harvested in 1999. In Belarus, economic problems, some spring frost damage and shortages of fertilizer and fuel cast serious doubt on the cereal production target of 5.7 million tonnes being met.


In Australia, planting of the 2000 winter wheat and coarse grain crops is underway. Good rainfall in early May, adding to ample existing sub-soil moisture after an unusually wet summer and early autumn, ensured planting conditions were generally ideal across all of the eastern and western grain belt. Early indications of farmers' planting intention point to a winter wheat area of 11.8 million hectares, virtually unchanged from the previous year. Given the good planting conditions, and assuming normal weather for the remainder of the season, a crop of nearly 23 million tonnes is forecast. This would be above the average of the past five years and just below the record crop of 24 million tonnes in 1999. As regards barley, the major winter coarse grain crop, early indications point to a sharp recovery in plantings to almost 3 million hectares after last year's reduced area.

However, although weather conditions for planting and early development of the winter grain crops are favourable, some uncertainty has by cast over the outcome of the 2000 harvest by an outbreak of locusts since April, reported to be the worst infestation in the past 50 years. Although some damage has already occurred to the earliest emerging cereal crops, the largest threat will be in the spring when the eggs, which are being laid this autumn, hatch. Intensive control measures will be needed over the coming months to prevent potentially very damaging plagues later in the year.

In Australia, harvesting of the rice crop is almost complete and the Government is forecasting an output contraction of over 20 percent from the previous season to about 1.1 million tonnes, reflecting drops of 13 percent and 7 percent in area and yield, respectively.

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