Harvesting of the 1999 maize crop is underway. Although rains have been irregular during the season, causing some delay in harvest operations, so far there has been no adverse effect on the crop. By mid-April, about 29 percent of the area planted had been harvested compared to 39 percent the year before. Production is tentatively forecast at an above average 13.5 to 14 million tonnes, compared to last year’s record of 19.4 million tonnes. This reflects decreased plantings, largely attributed to unattractive prices. Paddy harvesting is also underway and a record 1.45 million tonnes is anticipated.
BOLIVIA (6 April)
Normal to above-normal rains are reported in several parts of the country since early-March following weeks of dry weather which could have an adverse effect on the developing crops, particularly in the main producing eastern Department of Santa Cruz. In the highlands and valleys, by contrast, cold spells have affected the crops. Harvesting of the 1999 main season cereal crops is about to start and a recovery in production, mainly coarse grains, is anticipated from last year’s El Niño affected crops. Improved outputs are also anticipated from the important potato crop, as well as other root crops.
BRAZIL (6 April)
Harvesting of the 1999 main maize crop is well advanced in the main producing states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Although adverse weather at planting and that of recent weeks have affected yields, maize production from both crops (the second crop currently being planted) is forecast at an average 34 million tonnes. This compares to last year’s low 30 million tonnes when the crops, particularly in the north and north-east, were severely affected by drought. Harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop is also well advanced and a well above average 10.5 to 11 million tonnes is forecast.
CHILE (6 April)
Dry weather conditions continue to prevail, with the exception of some parts in the north. A severe dry spell lasting several months has affected crops. As a result, the government declared an alert in 120 agricultural locations in central parts of the country. Power supply has been rationed. Production of the recently harvested 1998/99 wheat crop declined from last year’s above-average 1.7 million tonnes to below-average. Harvesting of the 1999 maize crop has only started and the outlook is poor as plantings were severely affected by drought. Output is currently forecast at a low 650 000 tonnes.
COLOMBIA (6 April)
Above-normal rains are reported over most of the country, except for some areas in the northern Andean highlands where dry weather has prevailed for several weeks. Planting of the 1999 main season cereal crops has only started and the area planted is expected to increase from 1998 below-average level, mostly as a result of a production purchase agreement between the feeding industry and farmers. Sorghum plantings are also anticipated to be below average mainly due to unattractive prices which have induced farmers to switch to more profitable crops.
ECUADOR (6 April)
Above-normal rains by end- February caused flooding, particularly in the coastal provinces of Esmeraldas, in the north, and the central and southern Manabi and Guayas, with consequent adverse effect on the crops. Harvesting of the 1999 main season yellow maize crop is about to start and, despite the heavy rains, output is expected to increase significantly from 1998 when the crops were severely damaged by El Niño. White maize harvesting will commence mainly from June. Paddy harvesting is also about to start and a significant recovery from last year’s affected crop is anticipated.
GUYANA (6 April)
Weather conditions have been dry since March, but have not seriously affected paddy. Harvesting is about to start and a recovery is expected from last year’s El Niño affected crop. Output is tentatively forecast at an above-average 600 000 tonnes.
PARAGUAY (6 April)
Normal weather resumed in March benefiting the harvesting of 1999 maize. Output is tentatively forecast at about 860 000 tonnes, slightly below last year.
PERU (6 April)
Weather conditions benefited the development of the 1999 wheat crop (to be harvested from May) and an above-average production is tentatively forecast. Harvesting of the 1999 white maize has only started while that of yellow maize is underway. Production of yellow maize output is anticipated to be average while that of white maize is expected to be above- average. Harvesting of the 1999 paddy crop is underway and output is provisionally forecast to be close to 1998 near record level.
SURINAME (6 April)
Normal rains have benefited the development of the 1999 important paddy crop and output is tentatively forecast at 200 000 tonnes, a significant recovery from last year’s El Niño affected crop. Outputs from other cash crops, such as bananas, and minor food crops in general are also expected to improve.
URUGUAY (6 April)
Harvesting of the 1998/99 maize and sorghum crops is underway while that of the barley crop is due to start from May. Prospects are good and average to above-average outputs are anticipated. Harvesting of the important paddy crop has started and a near-record output is expected, a substantial recovery from last year’s El Niño affected crop.
VENEZUELA (6 April)
Normal rains benefited land preparation for 1999 coarse grain and paddy planting. The area planted to maize is expected to be similar to 1998 average, reflecting steady domestic demand. A slight decline in the area planted to paddy is expected in anticipation of decreasing exports to neighbouring countries.