Economic and Social Department

 global information and early warning system on food and agriculture

 food outlook
No. 4 Rome, September 2003

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Cereals: Supply/Demand Roundup

Cereals: Current Production and Crop Prospects

Cereals: Trade

Cereals: Carryover stocks

Cereals: Export Prices


Appendix Tables


Cereals: Current Production and Crop Prospects

Position by Region




Far East: In China, harvesting of the major wheat crop (winter wheat) was complete in June, and the 2003 output has been officially estimated at 81 million tonnes. This represents 3.4 million tonnes or 4 percent less wheat than last year, due to a significant shift of area from wheat to more profitable non-cereal crops. Harvesting of spring wheat is under way. Low temperatures and heavy rain in North China, the major wheat producing region, have affected the latter development stages of the spring wheat, delaying the harvest by some 10–15 days, and affecting wheat quality. Output of spring wheat is expected to fall by about 5 million tonnes, or 4 percent, from last year. Thus the aggregate 2003 wheat output is forecast at just over 86 million tonnes, 5 percent down from 2002. In India, output of the 2003 wheat crop, which was harvested in May, is officially estimated at 69.3 million tonnes. This figure is 3.6 percent down from the previous year and 2.5 percent down compared to the average of the previous five years, resulting from reductions in areas planted. In Pakistan, according to official estimates, the 2003 wheat crop harvested in April–May amounted to 19.3 million tonnes, a good level despite wide fluctuations in temperature, particularly in Punjab, which produces around 80 percent of the country’s wheat. Conditions for wheat production in the Islamic Republic of Iran were favourable this year with government price support providing incentive to farmers and good weather benefiting crop development. The 2003 wheat output is estimated at 12.8 million tonnes, 2.8 percent above the previous year’s level.

Moisture conditions improved in northeast China in July with the arrival of heavy rains, after earlier drought during the May–June coarse grain planting period. However, the rains arrived too late for the more advanced crops, and with the lower temperatures, rainfall may have been more damaging than beneficial. Accordingly, maize yields in several parts of the northeast are expected to be lower than last year. By contrast, maize in the Yellow and Huai River region, the second largest maize-producing region after the northeast, is reported to be in better condition than it was last year, due to relatively timely and sufficient rainfall. The country’s aggregate maize output in 2003 is forecast at 116 million tonnes, slightly higher than previous expectations, but still 4.3 percent lower than last year and 3.8 percent below the average of the past five years; these figures reflect mainly the large reduction in area planted to maize. In India, excellent rains in the main maize growing regions, combined with high maize prices, have resulted in increased maize planting completed in July. As a result, maize production in 2003 could reach 13 million tonnes, 17 percent above last year and 11 percent above the average of the past five years.

The latest information points to a significant recovery in paddy production in Far East Asia over last year’s reduced crop, when erratic monsoon rains caused havoc to the sector in large sections of the region. The monsoon is reported to be progressing favourably so far, despite some excessive rainfall that has caused localized flooding in several areas.

In Bangladesh, heavy rains in June were reported to have caused the loss of some 136 000 hectares of paddy land, but brought relief from the long heat-wave that had gripped the country for several months. The forecast for paddy production in the current season now stands at 39.6 million tonnes, 4 percent higher than the 2002 level, the estimate of which has just been revised downward somewhat. The rise is consistent with the intensification of government support and the ongoing tendency for farmers to shift from jute to rice cultivation as a response to relatively high paddy prices.

Although production in mainland China is still expected to decrease this year, the reduction should be less than was originally expected because of better prospects for the intermediate (or semi-late) crop, which is now expected to rise by 2 percent, partly offsetting declines of 3 percent and 5 percent in the early and late rice crops, respectively. The forecast for the aggregate output in 2003 now stands at 173.8 million tonnes in 2003, only marginally less than last year, despite violent rainstorms that hit the important producing regions of Guangdong, Hunan and Anhui in June. Tropical storms also hit the Chinese Province of Taiwan, but they caused little damage to the rice fields. The output forecast remains at 1.7 million tonnes, down from a revised official estimate of 1.8 million tonnes in 2002.

In India, despite a late start of the southwest monsoon rains, by 6 August most of the meteorological subdivisions in India had recorded above-normal rainfall, with only three areas measuring below-normal precipitation. As a result, prospects for output in 2003 point to a 14 percent recovery from last year’s dismal level. The 2002 output estimate was recently revised downward by 2 million tonnes to 113.6 million tonnes. In anticipation of the opening of procurement activities in October, the Ministry of Agriculture has proposed incorporating a drought relief subsidy of Rupees 200 per tonne into the minimum support prices. If accepted, paddy support prices will be set this season at Rupees 5 500 and at Rupees 5 800 per tonne for the Common and Grade A paddy, respectively (US$120–$126 per tonne), that is Rupees 200 per tonne above the 2002 levels. Moreover, in an attempt to ensure that farmers get paid the minimum prices and to prevent cases of acute distress sales, the government recently authorized the procurement agencies to buy paddy directly from farmers, rather than exclusively through millers.

Indonesia has basically concluded the harvesting of its main paddy crop, while planting of the second crop is now in progress. Despite some drought-related losses reported in June in the major producing islands of Java and Sumatra and fewer areas planted, the official forecast for the country’s paddy output in 2003 has been raised from 51.4 million tonnes to 51.8 million tonnes as a result of improved yield prospects. The country has failed for the past three years to reach a 53 million tonne production target and producers have laid the blame on imports for depressing local prices. In an attempt to compensate for the continued conversion of paddy fields to other agricultural and non-agricultural uses, especially in Java and Bali, the government recently announced the launching of a programme to convert 420 000 hectares of swamp lands into paddy fields.

The 2003 season is also practically over in Sri Lanka, where the harvest of the second (Yala) crop is ending in September. A combination of improved security and favourable weather conditions has boosted production under the main Maha crop to a record 1.93 million tonnes. With an expected Yala output of 1.52 million tonnes, the country’s aggregate output for the year would thus rise to 3.45 million tonnes, 400 000 tonnes above the previous forecast and the largest crop on record.

Prospects in the Democratic Republic of Korea also improved, as an expansion in plantings and favourable weather conditions have been reported. As a result, the forecast for production in 2003 has been increased by 200 000 tonnes since the previous report to 2.3 million tonnes, which would be 5 percent up from 2002.

In Japan, growing conditions have been unfavourable since mid-June, with low temperatures and brief hours of sunlight. As a result, the output forecast has been reduced by 600 000 tonnes to 10.3 million tonnes, which is 7 percent less than the previous year and the lowest level since 1993. Such adverse weather conditions have accentuated the negative trend in production stemming from changes in policies, a stance that is set to persist as the government continues to liberalize the sector and reduces its involvement in rice production, distribution and trade. The Staple Food Law was revised to that effect last June for implementation in April 2004.

World Cereal Production

 WheatCoarse grainsRice (paddy)Total
 20022003 forecast20022003 forecast20022003 forecast20022003 forecast
 (million tonnes)
Central America3.33.028.529.12.32.434.134.5
South America18.
North America59.783.3264.9302.39.68.9334.2394.5
WORLD 568.9 556.4 879.6 912.8 574.8 593.2 2 023.4 2 062.4
      (384)1/ (396)1/ (1 833)2/ (1 865)2/
Developing countries262.2267.6371.4387.2549.2570.0 1 182.8 1 224.8
Developed countries306.6288.7508.3525.625.723.2840.6837.5

Source : FAO 1/ Milled rice. 2/ Including milled rice. Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.

Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan were reported to have caused serious damage to rice grown in the Sindh region, which consists mainly of IRRI varieties. As a result, the forecast for production this season has been cut by some 650 000 tonnes to 6.4 million tonnes, only slightly above last year’s relatively modest crop.

The latest official estimate of production in 2002 (July–June) in the Philippines has been lowered by about 200 000 tonnes to 13 million tonnes (still very close to the record achieved in the previous year), reflecting a poor performance during the January–June 2003 period. Underlying the reduction was a long dry spell over the second quarter, which hindered plantings, as well as pest and disease problems. The production forecast for 2003 (July–June), however, points to a 4 percent increase to a new high of 13.5 million tonnes. The government continues to pursue a strong expansionary policy in paddy production and has set a target area for hybrid rice cultivation of 200 000 hectares this season.

In Viet Nam, gathering of the spring/summer crop (the most important of the three paddy crops grown in the country) has drawn to a close and harvesting of the summer/autumn crop is in progress. Official estimates point to a bumper spring/summer crop of 16.76 million tonnes, slightly more than last year. However, the government forecast for the whole season has been set at 33.5 million tonnes, 700 000 tonnes less than the previous FAO figure and almost 2 percent lower than last year’s bumper harvest. To help farmers cope with a temporary supply glut, the government recently instructed procurement agencies not to buy paddy rice at less than a minimum price of Dong 1 500 per kg (about US$100 per tonne).

The outlook for paddy production in the other major producing countries in the region remains unchanged from the previous report. In Thailand, abundant and widespread rainfall is anticipated to boost the country’s main crop, although drought in the northeast may affect output of Hom Mali fragrant rice and is thus causing some concern. Under current prospects, production is anticipated to reach a record 27 million tonnes, 4 percent higher than last season; farmers are progressively shifting to higher-quality rice varieties and the government has increased budget allocations aimed at raising the productivity of fragrant rice crops.

Production in Myanmar is also expected to increase by 3 percent following the liberalization of the sector, which should coincide with the abolition of the state procurement and trade monopolies and of producer compulsory sales to the government agencies at prices well below market levels. However, in the absence of a competitive and transparent environment, there is still much uncertainty as to how the new system will be functioning and how producers will react.

Near East: The outlook for the 2003 cereal production is generally favourable in the region. In Iraq, the harvesting season is complete. An FAO/WFP Crop, Food Supply and Nutrition Assessment Mission has completed its field work and the report is under preparation.

CIS in Asia: Favourable weather conditions and ample irrigation water availability in much of the region, except for Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic and Armenia, ensured cereal harvests to nearly match last year’s bumper crop. The aggregate cereal harvest in the region is estimated at about 26 million tonnes, 3.2 million tonnes less than in 2002. This includes some 21 million tonnes of wheat, 2.5 million tonnes of barley and 1.5 million tonnes of maize. Wheat is the most important cereal crop throughout the region. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are both expecting record wheat harvests (685 000 tonnes and 4.9 million tonnes respectively), while wheat output in Kazakhstan, at 10.6 million tonnes, is about 2 million tonnes lower than last year’s record level. Low wheat prices last year discouraged some farmers in Kazakhstan from matching last year’s planted area, while frost and a relatively dry spring compromised some cereal crops in the Kyrgyz Republic, Georgia and Armenia. The latest estimate of paddy production in Kazakhstan has been raised by some 40 000 tonnes, to 243 000 tonnes, the highest level since 1997.



Northern Africa: Harvesting of the 2003 winter cereal crops is virtually complete in the subregion. Normal to abundant rains in the main producing areas at planting, and well-distributed precipitation throughout the development period significantly benefited the crops. Aggregate cereal output in 2003 is provisionally estimated at a record of about 35 million tonnes, an important increase from 2002 when an average-sized crop of 28 million tonnes was collected. Production of wheat, the main cereal, is estimated at 16.7 million tonnes, which compares to an average 12.1 million tonnes harvested in 2002. Wheat production rebounded strongly in Algeria, increasing by almost 100 percent with respect to 2002, to some 3 million tonnes. In Morocco, wheat production increased by 60 percent to 5.4 million tonnes and in Tunisia, it almost tripled from the 2002 level, to reach 1.3 million tonnes. A slightly above-average wheat crop was harvested in Egypt. Production of coarse grains in the subregion is also expected to increase significantly from last year’s about-average crop, mostly reflecting a bumper barley crop of about 4.5 million tonnes, twice the average of the past five years. Harvesting of the main paddy crop has just started in Egypt, which alone accounts for over 30 percent of the output in the region. It is officially reported that the area under rice has been maintained close to the previous year’s level at about 650 000 hectares, and a shift to new varieties is also noted, which is likely to lead to further growth in yields.

Western Africa: The outlook for the 2003 grain crops is uncertain in most coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea due to erratic and generally below-average rainfall so far. Prospects for the main season crops have been compromised by an extended period of dry weather over most of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Liberia, in addition to adverse weather, intensified fighting has disrupted the current agricultural season and displaced thousands of families, pointing to a further drop in cereal production this year. Growing conditions are favourable so far in Nigeria. In the Sahel, early crop prospects are mixed. Following generally widespread rains since June over most of the producing areas in Burkina Faso, Chad, the Gambia, Mali and Niger, crops are developing satisfactorily and prospects are generally favourable. In Mauritania, improved rains after mid-July permitted plantings in most producing zones. By contrast, precipitation remained limited over Senegal until early August, while in Cape Verde, prospects for the maize crop, normally planted from July, are not favourable because the onset of rains was delayed. In Guinea Bissau, crop prospects are unfavourable as there was a large-scale outbreak of grasshoppers in northern and eastern regions.

Paddy harvesting is under way in most countries in the subregion. Weather conditions for the crops have been favourable in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, presaging a positive production outlook. In addition, in Nigeria, increased support to the sector by the government should contribute to an expected 4 percent increase to 3.5 million tonnes this season. By contrast, erratic rainfall patterns in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal and Sierra Leone have led to a downward revision of the production forecasts for those countries, all of which are now expected to show decreases compared with last year.

Central Africa: Growing conditions for the 2003 cereal crops are favourable so far in Cameroon. In the Central African Republic, cereal production is not expected to increase this year, as population displacements resulted in reduced planting and seed shortages. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the recently harvested 2003 second season in northeastern areas is estimated to have decreased as a result of the persistent civil conflict in the area.

Eastern Africa: Harvesting of the 2003 wheat crop has been completed in Sudan. Latest estimates indicate an output of 363 000 tonnes, 47 percent higher than last year. In Kenya, crop prospects improved, reflecting better rains in the main producing areas. In Ethiopia, good rains in July and August have favoured the establishment and development of the wheat crop.

Harvesting of the 2003 coarse grains crops is almost complete or is under way in the southern countries of the subregion, while in the northern areas the harvest is scheduled from November. The outlook is mixed. In Tanzania, the recently harvested 2003 main season coarse grain crops is forecast at 3.9 million tonnes, 10 percent lower than in 2002, mainly as a result of extended dry weather in the eastern, central and southern parts of the country. In Kenya, earlier unfavourable prospects for the “long-rains” maize crop (due to late onset of rains in many areas) ameliorated somewhat following reports of good crop conditions in key long-rains dependent areas of the Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza Provinces. The government has recently revised upward estimates of this year’s “long rains” maize crop from 1.8 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes. At this level the maize crop is about the same as the average for the previous five years, estimated at 1.97 million tonnes. In Somalia, the current gu season crop in southern Somalia is forecast at about 215 000 tonnes, more than a quarter above the post-war average. In Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, where crops are in the developing stage, prospects have improved as a result of the good rains over the past two months. However, severe floods in some areas have caused a number of deaths and damaged crops and property. In Rwanda and Burundi, output of coarse grains from the recently harvested 2003 B season, declined slightly from the satisfactory levels last year, reflecting a delayed start of the rains.

The 2003 paddy crop harvest has been completed, and preliminary assessments of the outcome suggest that it will be 4 percent smaller than last year in Tanzania, reflecting the severe drought conditions that prevailed in February and March, just after the main paddy crop had been planted.

Southern Africa: Overall prospects for the 2003 wheat crop, to be harvested from October/November, are unfavourable, reflecting a significant reduction in the area planted. In South Africa, which accounts for over 80 percent of the subregion’s aggregate production, the first official production estimates indicate a harvest close to 1.6 million tonnes, which is 34 percent lower than the previous year’s and below the average size. In Zimbabwe, the wheat production is forecast by FAO at 90 000 tonnes, 44 percent lower than even the poor harvest of 2002, as a result of a further decline in plantings associated with land distribution activities.

FAO's latest estimates of the recently harvested 2003 coarse grain crops indicate an aggregate output of 16.5 million tonnes, 5 percent higher than last year’s and the average-size crop. Production of maize, the main staple, increased 5 percent to 15.3 million tonnes, mainly reflecting overall favourable weather conditions. However, the harvest outcome at national level was varied. In South Africa, the largest producer, coarse grain production declined 8 percent to 9.7 million tonnes due to dry spells in some areas during the growing season. In Zimbabwe, affected by prolonged dry weather and land reform activities, production increased 65 percent to 917 000 tonnes, but it remained 40 percent below the average of the past five years. Production also remained relatively low in Swaziland and Lesotho and declined in Botswana and in Madagascar. Elsewhere, coarse grain outputs recovered substantially from the reduced levels of the past two years. In Malawi, production increased by one-third from 2002 to 2 million tonnes. In Zambia, the coarse grain output rose 85 percent to an above-average level of 1.2 million tonnes. In Mozambique, production remained virtually unchanged from last year’s good level of 1.6 million tonnes but in southern areas the crop was sharply reduced by drought. In Angola, following the end of the prolonged civil conflict and good rains during the season, the output increased 18 percent to an above-average level of 549 000 tonnes. In Namibia, the coarse grain harvest is estimated to be 38 percent higher than last year’s at 102 000 tonnes.

Regarding paddy output in the subregion, official estimates of 200 000 tonnes in Mozambique now indicate a 19 percent increase compared to last year; this is 20 000 tonnes more than previously expected. The increase stemmed mainly from higher yields for both rainfed cultivation (predominating in the northern provinces) and irrigated land (in the south). These gains reflect the beneficial effects of the rains associated with tropical cyclone Japhet along with improved seed supplies distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture in response to last year’s drought. Similarly, despite a negative start of the season, production in Madagascar is estimated to have increased by 5 percent to 2.8 million tonnes, the highest level on record.

Central America and the Caribbean


Harvesting of the 2003 irrigated wheat crop in Mexico, practically the sole producer in the subregion, has been completed. The output is provisionally estimated close to 3 million tonnes, 9 percent lower than last year’s average crop, reflecting lower plantings and yields due to low levels of water reservoirs.

Prospects for the 2003 coarse grains, which are about to be harvested, are favourable, reflecting average plantings and overall good rains during the cropping season. In Mexico, where harvesting of the spring/summer crop is due from October, the aggregate maize output (including the recently harvested autumn/winter crop) is forecast to be slightly above average at 19 million tonnes. By contrast, sorghum output is expected to be below average, reflecting diversion of land to maize in response to more attractive prices. Following abundant rains during the season, the outlook is also favourable in Guatemala and Nicaragua, where the coarse grain outputs are forecast to be larger than both last year’s and the average levels. In El Salvador and Honduras, production is expected to remain at about the same good levels as in 2002. In the Caribbean, harvesting of the 2003/04 first season coarse grains is under way. Average- to above-average sized harvests are expected in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba as a result of overall good rains.

Although seasonal torrential rains have fallen since early July in Central America and the Caribbean, causing some flooding in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, no particular damage to paddy crops has been reported in those countries. Nonetheless, a 33 percent drop in output has been officially forecast in El Salvador, following a sharp reduction in plantings, in what appears to be a distinct tendency for farmers to move away from paddy cultivation over recent years. On the other hand, several countries that had experienced a production shortfall last season are currently expected to undergo a recovery, in particular Costa Rica and Mexico. Increased outputs have also been anticipated in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Panama.

South America


Planting of the 2003/2004 wheat crop is almost complete in most of the southern countries of the subregion. In Argentina, following dry spells during the past month which resulted in planting reductions, weather conditions have improved and 93 percent of intended plantings had been sown by mid-August. The area planted is now estimated at around 6 million hectares, lower than what had been anticipated earlier but still higher than last year’s reduced level. In Brazil, where planting has been completed, official forecasts point to a crop of 4.7 million tonnes, some 62 percent above last year’s good crop. This reflects technological improvements in response to the government’s production incentives. In Chile, plantings have been completed under favourable weather conditions and the area is provisionally estimated to be above average. By contrast, in Uruguay, the area planted has been officially estimated to be below last year’s level and below the average area. In Paraguay, planting operations – previously delayed by soil moisture deficits – have been completed and the area planted is estimated to be average. In Bolivia, planting of the winter wheat crop has been completed in the eastern department of Santa Cruz. Elsewhere in the Andean countries, the 2003 wheat crop has recently been harvested; good outputs were obtained in Peru and Bolivia.

Harvesting of the 2003 coarse grain crops has been virtually completed in the southern countries. FAO’s preliminary estimates show the subregion’s aggregate output to be 76 million tonnes. This is 18 percent above the previous year’s average crop, mainly as the result of an increase of 29 percent in Brazil’s maize production, where this year’s output has been estimated at a record level of nearly 46 million tonnes. In Argentina, the main maize crop output is provisionally estimated at 15 million tonnes, some 2 percent above last year’s level but still below the average of the past five years, reflecting diversion of land to soya beans. Sorghum production is expected to be 2.8 million tonnes, lower than both last year and the average levels. In Chile, a bumper maize crop of 1.2 million tonnes is anticipated. In Uruguay, maize output declined substantially from last year, but at 190 000 tonnes remained about average. Regarding the Andean countries, in Peru the maize harvest is well advanced and output is expected to be 1.3 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from last year’s good level. In Colombia, maize production is also expected to remain close to the 2002 above-average crop at about 1.2 million tonnes. By contrast, in Ecuador, where the main season maize crop harvest is well under way, it has been forecast that the 2003 aggregate output will be reduced for the third consecutive year as a result of dry weather and heavy rains during the growing season. In Bolivia, an average-sized coarse grain crop has been gathered.

The 2003 season paddy has been almost completely harvested in the subregion and producers will soon start planting the new 2004 crops. Official paddy production estimates for 2003 in Argentina show an 8 percent decrease to what appears to be the lowest outcome since 1995. While plantings failed to recover, yields were depressed by late rainfall at the onset of the season, in October and November and, again, by unfavourable climatic conditions at harvest time. In Brazil, the state agency CONAB, which recently conducted its fifth crop survey of the year, lowered its estimates of paddy production by 200 000 tonnes this season. The new figure reveals a 2 percent reduction over last year’s figures to 10.4 million tonnes, mainly reflecting weather problems in the major producing state of Rio Grande do Sul where low temperatures and excessive rains delayed the start of the season and depressed crop yields. However, the production results were positive in the second largest producing state of Mato Grosso, reflecting the opening of new rice areas and the growing adoption of advanced technologies.

In the rest of the region, it has been anticipated that adverse weather conditions will depress rice production in Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. By contrast, a positive harvest is foreseen for Colombia, where a strong increase in planting area was reported for the main crop, mainly reflecting an extension in the Department of Casanare and in the low Cauca area on the eastern plains (Llanos Orientales). However, prospects for a large increase in output have been mitigated since August by adverse weather conditions. Overall, the season is forecast to end with a 6 percent overall increase in output to 2.5 million tonnes, some 100 000 tonnes more than had been anticipated earlier. Official estimates also suggest a sharp increase in Guyana, where production is set to rise by 13 percent to slightly above 500 000 tonnes, and in Paraguay, reflecting an expansion in plantings.

North America


The 2003 winter wheat harvest was virtually complete by the end of July and the latest estimate in the USDA August Crop Report put the output at 46.6 million tonnes, 50 percent up from the poor crop of 2002. The spring wheat crop, about half of which had been harvested by mid-August, is also expected to increase significantly. Although the area planted decreased, abandonment is expected to be much lower, and yields are forecast to be much higher than last year’s. The aggregate (winter and spring) wheat output is forecast at 62.4 million tonnes, 42 percent higher than 2002. In Canada, although predominantly hot and dry conditions during July and early August indicated that harvests would probably be somewhat diminished, the latest indications still point to a strong recovery in cereal production this year compared to last year’s drought-reduced crop. According to the official August figures, the country’s 2003 wheat crop should come to 21.7 million tonnes, somewhat lower than earlier expectations, but much larger than the low 15.7 million tonne crop in 2002.

The 2003 coarse grain output in the region is also forecast to rebound from last year’s drought-reduced level. In the United States, the aggregate coarse grain crop is forecast at 276 million tonnes, 13 percent larger than the previous year. As of mid-August, the overall condition of the maize crop had slipped down somewhat compared to the previous weeks, but was still better compared to a year earlier. Maize output is now forecast at 256 million tonnes, almost 12 percent more than 2002. Although the planted area was similar, a larger percentage of the crop is expected to be harvested this year, and moreover yields should be significantly improved. In Canada, barley is the main coarse grain, and output of this crop is expected to recover by 68 percent to 12.2 million tonnes, reflecting increased sowings and better yield prospects. Barley, like wheat, is grown in spring, and up to July the crop benefited from much more favourable weather conditions. Since then the crops have suffered a bit from dryness and high temperatures; some good rainfall in the coming weeks would be beneficial.

In the United States, as of 17 August, harvesting of the 2003 paddy crop was advancing well in the Gulf states of Louisiana and Texas but had not yet started in most of the other producing states. The forecast for the country’s aggregate production was recently lowered by some 200 000 tonnes to 8.8 million tonnes, which is 8 percent below the bumper crop last year. Much of this year’s decrease should be concentrated in California, where planting of the crop was hindered by excessive rains. Both medium/short-grain and long-grain rice will probably be affected, with the drop in output anticipated at 6 percent for the former and at 8 percent for the latter.



Cereal production in Europe has been considerably reduced this year due to adverse weather. Harsh winter conditions caused area reductions in some parts, and an exceptionally hot and dry summer brought yields down across the continent. FAO’s latest estimate of the EU’s aggregate wheat crop now stands at about 94 million tonnes, 10 percent down from last year and 7 percent below the average of the past 5 years. The largest reduction at the national level has occurred in France where a significant area reduction compounded with a sharp yield decrease has seen production drop to just about 32.7 million tonnes, from almost 39 million tonnes in 2002. Among the other main wheat producers, output is forecast to decline by about 6 percent in Germany, 13 percent in Italy, 5 percent in Spain and 12 percent in the United Kingdom. Regarding the coarse grains, contrary to earlier expectations, the latest forecast for the EU’s aggregate crop also points to a significant decline of about 10 percent to some 97 million tonnes. Barley crops have already been gathered in many areas, and lower yields have been noted. With predominantly dry conditions and exceptionally high temperatures persisting throughout July and into August, hopes for even a late recovery in the maize crop have been dashed. In France, the EU’s biggest producer, latest indications point to a maize output of just 12.2 million tonnes, some 25 percent below the 2002 harvest. The paddy season got off to a good start earlier this year with plantings increasing in all the producing countries, especially Spain. However, since then, the prolonged drought and heat-wave this summer has diminished the output prospects substantially. The situation is particularly serious in Italy and Spain, where the lack of rainfall has entailed serious losses. As a result, the FAO forecast of the EU’s paddy production has been lowered since the previous report by some 200 000 tonnes to 2.4 million tonnes, 7 percent less than last season.

In the CEECs, the 2003 cereal harvest is expected to be well below last year’s and the average harvest size, following adverse weather conditions for both the winter and spring grain seasons. Persisting drought and high temperatures in June and July diminished yield prospects sharply for the winter grains after an already poor start to the season in some places because of bad planting weather. With most of the winter grains now collected, the latest output estimates are much more reliable. In Bulgaria, the latest official forecast puts the 2003 wheat crop at just 2.2 million tonnes, about 40 percent lower than last year’s. Further to the north, in Romania, wheat output has been estimated at a record low of 2.5 million tonnes, compared to 4.4 million tonnes last year and over 5 million tonnes on average over the past five years. Hungary was one of the countries that was hit the hardest by the drought, and the wheat harvest is estimated at just 3 million tonnes, compared to the already relatively low crop of 3.9 million tonnes last year. Average yields have been recorded at just 2.6 tonnes per hectare, whereas an average yield of above 4 tonnes per hectare was attained in 2001. In the Czech and Slovak Republics the winter grain outputs have also been reduced, but largely due to adverse planting and harsh winter weather conditions; the summer drought was not as severe in these countries as elsewhere. In Poland, the drought and heat were also less severe than in the central part of the region. Nevertheless, the winter grain yields have been estimated to be significantly below normal levels. The wheat output is forecast at about 8.2 million tonnes, about 12 percent below last year and 10 percent below the five-year average. The scenario for the coarse grain crops throughout the CEECs is similar to that for wheat. Although the area planted to spring barley increased in some parts to compensate for the weather-reduced winter cereal area, yields have been severely diminished by the hot and dry weather. As time passes, even hopes that some rain might arrive in time to give a late boost to the distressed maize crop are beginning to diminish; forecasts for maize output have been reduced to reflect this. In Romania, normally the largest maize producer in the region, output is now expected to reach only about 7.5 million tonnes at best. In Hungary, the other main maize producer, output is now forecast at about 5.2 million tonnes, 18 percent less than last year’s average-sized crop.

In the CIS countries in Europe (the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova), severely cold weather, thin snow cover and frost followed by an exceptionally dry spring significantly compromised cereal production throughout the region. The most adversely affected countries are Ukraine and Moldova. Aggregate wheat harvest is now estimated at 43 million tonnes, compared with 72.4 million tonnes in 2002. Wheat production in Ukraine is estimated at 5.5 million tonnes, which is 72 percent down on last year’s harvest. In Moldova the wheat harvest is 82 percent smaller than last year’s harvest at 220 000 tonnes, while in the Russian Federation the harvest is more than 14 million tonnes smaller than last year’s. The coarse grains harvest in the region has now been estimated at about 52.3 million tonnes, which is some 3.5 million tonnes lower than last year’s harvest. The region should produce some 26.3 million tonnes of barley and about 7.6 million tonnes of maize this year, compared with more than 31 million tonnes of barley and 5.8 million tonnes of maize in 2002. The barley harvest this year is estimated at 17.7 million tonnes in the Russian Federation, 7 million tonnes in Ukraine and 1.6 million tonnes in Belarus, which compares with 18.6 million tonnes, 10.4 million tonnes and 1.8 million tonnes, respectively, in 2002. Significantly larger areas were planted with maize in Ukraine and Moldova; this is the main reason for higher output this year. The maize harvest is forecast at about 1.4 million tonnes in the Russian Federation, nearly 5.2 million tonnes in Ukraine and 967 000 tonnes in Moldova.

In the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) the aggregate cereal harvest has been estimated at 3.8 million tonnes compared with 4 million tonnes last year. This aggregate includes about 1.3 million tonnes of wheat and almost 2.5 million tonnes of coarse grains. Unfavourable weather conditions and low cereal prices last year contributed to this year’s lower-than-expected output.



Planting of the 2003 winter wheat and coarse grain crops was virtually complete by mid-July. Some favourable rains early in the month prompted a spurt of late planting activity in some places, and thus farmers were able to make use of areas still unplanted because of dry conditions in June. The final planted area could come close to what was forecast by ABARE in early June, namely a 6.8 percent increase in the winter crop area to just over 19 million hectares. Moreover, good rains in early August favoured emergence and establishment of crops. Thus, although much will still depend on the weather conditions during the growing season, the latest cereal output prospects agree with the official June forecasts. Wheat output in 2003 is expected to recover sharply to about 21.7 million tonnes, with average yields returning to around 1.8 tonnes per hectare after the previous year’s poor level of just 0.8 tonnes per hectare. The winter coarse grain output is also expected to recover sharply, with barley production forecast at about 6.6 million tonnes compared to 3.3 million tonnes in 2002. The harvest of the 2003 summer crops is mostly complete. Production was sharply reduced because of lower irrigation supplies from last year’s drought. Output of sorghum and maize was less than half the previous year’s level at just about 1.2 million tonnes, while the paddy crop was down 70 percent at a near-record low of just 390 000 tonnes. Harvesting of the 2003 paddy crop in Australia was concluded in May, and planting of the new season’s crop will not begin until October. The latest assessment of the 2003 crop, which was heavily affected by lack of water for irrigation, confirms a dismal output of 391 000 tonnes, or 70 percent less than in 2002. Concern is now extending to the 2004 season, since rains over the winter and spring have been insufficient to restore reservoir levels, and prospects for next season production now stand at 500 000 tonnes, improved from the current season but well below the 1.8 million tonnes and 1.3 million tonnes harvested in 2001 and 2002.

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