The bulk of the 2000 wheat crop is due to be sown from May to June. The area planted is expected to increase somewhat as producers shift land out of oilseeds in response higher returns expected for wheat. However, a return to average yields after the bumper levels in 1999, is expected to offset the area increase, and overall output of wheat is tentatively forecast at about 26 million tonnes, compared to 26.8 million tonnes in 1999. The bulk of the coarse grains crops will be sown in May-June. Early indications point to a marginal increase in barley area.
UNITED STATES (6 April)
In the United States, wheat output could fall somewhat further in 2000 after a sharp decline already in 1999. Latest official estimates put winter wheat plantings at about 17.5 million hectares, virtually unchanged from the previous year's reduced area. Conditions for crops improved significantly in late March following widespread rains in the U.S. Plains, where moisture had generally been greatly lacking since planting time. In fact, in the USDA April Crop Progress Report, 12 percent of the winter wheat crop was reported to be in excellent condition, 48 percent good, and 26 percent fair, figures which indicate just a marginally worse condition overall than in the previous year. Nevertheless, in some areas where the winter drought was most severe, damaged wheat crops will likely be replaced with other cereals this spring. Early indications for spring wheat plantings in the USDA Prospective Planting Report point to a 5 percent reduction in area to about 7.5 million hectares. Assuming the forecast spring wheat area materializes, and normal weather conditions prevail for the rest of the season, FAO currently forecasts the aggregate 2000 wheat output in the United States at about 60 million tonnes.
Some early coarse grains crops are already in the ground in southern parts, but the bulk of the maize planting in the Corn Belt states takes place from late April. Early indications in the USDA Prospective Planting Report point to a slight increase of 1 percent in maize plantings but a 3 percent decline for sorghum. Despite some widespread rains in late March across the Corn Belt States, more precipitation is still needed to ensure conditions are satisfactory for coarse grains planting. Planting of this season's rice crop is underway. Given the low prices and high level of stocks, the area under rice is anticipated to decline by about 5 percent from the previous season.