NORTH AMERICA

CANADA (18 October)

Harvesting of the 1996 cereal crops picked up pace rapidly in October after serious disruptions in September due to adverse weather. A combination of heavy rain, snow and frost across most of the major producing areas in late September put a stop to all field operations and damage to standing and swathed crops was been reported. Although no details are yet available, reports in early October indicated many crops had been flattened and grains began sprouting in the ear because of excessive moisture. The latest official forecast for 1996 wheat production is 29.9 million tons, which would be about 19 percent above the 1995 crop and well above the 10-year average. However, as this forecast was made before the onset of the adverse weather it may have to be revised pending the final harvest results. Even if quantitative losses are not significant, it is likely that much of this year’s crop will be of lower quality than normal.

As for coarse grains, aggregate production is expected to increase in 1996 after significantly larger plantings, particularly for barley and oats the major coarse grain crops. However, as for wheat, adverse weather conditions in September disrupted harvesting operations and have likely affected the quality of crops still to be gathered. The country’s aggregate coarse grain production is estimated at 29.5 million tons, but the final outcome will depend greatly on weather conditions until completion of the harvest.

UNITED STATES (18 October)

The October USDA crop report estimates the 1996 aggregate (winter and spring) wheat output at 62.1 million tons, 4 percent above the harvest in 1995. Although winter wheat output fell by some 1.5 million tons to 40.7 million tons, this was more than offset by a significant increase in the spring wheat crop, now estimated at 21.4 million tons. Planting of winter wheat for harvest next year is well underway under normal conditions. By 15 October, three- quarters of the expected season total winter wheat area had been sown across the 19 major producing states.

The outlook for the United States 1996 coarse grain crop, mainly maize, remains favourable. The USDA's latest forecast puts aggregate coarse grain production at 260.5 million tons, well above last year's reduced crop. Maize production was forecast at 228.9 million tons, 22 percent up from 1995. However, harvesting is still in the very early stages, and somewhat behind normal pace because of this year's late planting. By 15 October, it was reported that only 20 percent of the crop had been harvested across the 17 major producing states compared to 34 percent on average for that time of the season, and yields are reported to be very mixed. The final outcome of the 1996 crop will still depend greatly on the weather for the completion of the harvest in the coming weeks.