ARGENTINA (17 October)

Growing conditions for the 1996/97 wheat crop are good in La Pampa and southern and central Buenos Aires provinces; normal precipitation in early October in northwestern Buenos Aires, as well as in Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios, helped improve soil conditions, but more rain is needed to ensure good yields. The total area planted is estimated at 6.9 million hectares. Early forecasts put production at between a record 14 and 14.5 million tons, which compares to last year’s 9.2 million tons crop and the 10 million tons average of the last 5 years. The increase is due to some 35 to 40 percent expansion in plantings from the 1995/96 crop and to the anticipated improvement in the use of fertilizers and farm machinery. Producers have been attracted by high international prices and expanding exports.

Planting of the 1996/97 maize crop has started in the principal growing areas of the country, except for a small part southeast of Cordoba. Sowing prospects are good and plantings should increase significantly from last year. Planting of the sorghum crop has started and the area planted is also expected to increase. By early October about 18 percent of intended plantings had been sown.

BOLIVIA (2 October)

Harvesting of the 1996 minor wheat crop has recently been completed under generally dry conditions, particularly in the Department of Santa Cruz, where the crop as well as large areas of pasture have been affected by excessive dry weather. A decrease of about 10 to 20 percent from normal wheat yields is anticipated. Aggregate production for both season is provisionally estimated at 92 000 tons, which compares to last year’s crop of 125 000 tons and an average 108 000 tons for the last 5 years. Harvesting of the sorghum crop has been completed and a bumper crop has been collected. Planting of the 1996/97 paddy crop has started. Sowing prospects are good, as water reserves are considered adequate, and above- average plantings are expected.

Wheat imports in the 1996/97 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at about 300 000 tons, similar to last year’s.

BRAZIL (14 October)

Harvesting of the 1996 wheat crop is underway. Latest official forecasts indicate a production of about 3 million tons, almost double the 1995 crop. The anticipated increase is mostly due to larger plantings in the principal producing states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, where producers have been attracted by high domestic prices, particularly at the time of planting. In Parana, the area planted is estimated at about 1 million hectares, compared to 579 000 hectares in 1995, while in Rio Grande do Sul plantings have expanded from 270 000 hectares to about 550 000 hectares. Production is expected to be 1.8 million tons and 1 million tons respectively.

Planting of the 1996/97 maize crop continues under favourable conditions. The area planted is expected to be about 14 million hectares, 600 000 hectares more than last year, when plantings were affected by a dry spell, particularly in the main producing states of Parana, Santa Caterina and Rio Grande do Sul. Besides attractive international prices, the increase is largely attributed to the producer price support and credit concessions programme implemented by the Government.

Planting of the 1996/97 paddy crop is about to start. The area planted is likely to decrease from the 1995/96 below- average level, mostly as a consequence of the tight credit situation affecting the rice producers’ sector.

CHILE (2 October)

Planting of the 1996/97 coarse grain crops has started under dry weather conditions, particularly in the northern parts of the country. A recovery in production is nevertheless expected from last year, when the crops were severely affected by drought. The area planted to maize is provisionally forecast to be about average. Plantings of oats and barley are also expected to be about average. Meanwhile, fieldwork continues on the 1996/97 wheat crop already in the ground for harvesting from December.

Wheat imports in the 1996/97 marketing year (December/November) are expected to decrease from 850 000 tons to some 650 000 tons as a consequence of an anticipated recovery in production. Maize imports are forecast at about 450 000 tons, close to the previous year’s.

COLOMBIA (2 October)

Harvesting of the 1996/97 first season cereal crops is about to be completed under normal conditions, following storm weather in July/August, when Caribbean coastal areas were affected by heavy rains and winds. Maize output is expected to be about 1 million tons, which compares to an average 1.1 million tons in 1995. Sorghum production is also expected to decline from a below-average 560 000 tons to 543 000 tons. By contrast, production of paddy should be an average 1.8 million tons.

Fieldwork has started for planting of the 1996/97 second season crops to be harvested from January.

ECUADOR (17 October)

Planting of the 1996 second season coarse grain and paddy crops has been recently completed. In the coastal areas, below-normal rains in September should not affect the development of the yellow maize and paddy crops to be harvested from October. In the highlands, where irregular and ill-distributed precipitation is reported, planting of the 1996 second season wheat crop is about to start, while harvesting of the second season yellow maize crop has begun in some areas. In the eastern parts of the country, the dry weather is not likely to affect the development of the second season yellow maize and paddy crops. Aggregate 1996 cereal production is provisionally forecast at a record 2.2 million tons. This is principally due to an anticipated record paddy crop of 1.5 million tons and an above-average 610 000 tons maize output.

PERU (17 October)

Weather conditions continued favouring harvesting of the 1996 cereal crops. Some 110 000 tons of wheat have been collected in the first 7 months of the year, which compares to 82 000 tons during the same period and a total 125 000 tons in 1995. The principal increases are reported in the regions of Grau, La Libertad, Chavin, around Lima and Caceres. During the same period, the output of maize gathered has increased from last year’s 503 000 tons to 577 000 tons. Main increases so far are reported in Grau, Marañon, La Libertad, Caceres and San Martin. Aggregate 1996 maize output is expected to be a satisfactory 720 000 tons. Paddy output is anticipated to be an average 1 million tons. The output of potatoes is expected to decline from last year’s record, but production should still be satisfactory.

URUGUAY (2 October)

Harvesting of the 1996/97 wheat crop, as well as that of barley and oats, is due to start from November. The outlook is favourable provided good weather persists. Wheat output should significantly increase from last year to a well above- average 500 000 tons. This is the result of increased plantings largely caused by attractive prices and expanding exports. The output of barley is also expected to be substantially above average, mainly as a consequence of increasing exports. Production of oats should be about average.

Planting of the 1996/97 maize, sorghum and paddy crops has started in some parts of the country. Intended plantings of maize and sorghum should be close to last year’s average level, while the area planted to paddy should be well above average.

VENEZUELA (10 October)

Fieldwork and planting of the 1996 coarse grain and paddy crops, as well as that of other foodcrops such as potatoes and plantains, have been delayed as a consequence of hurricane rains and winds in August which have caused some floodings in various parts of the country. Intended plantings of maize and paddy are expected to be above average in response to continuing attractive prices and expanding exports, particularly for the latter.