FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages No 1, February 2002

NORTH AMERICA

CANADA (6 February)

Latest estimates put the 2001 wheat output at about 21.3 million tonnes, more than 20 percent down from the previous year as a result of severe drought. Precipitation has remained well below normal in many areas throughout the winter so far and prospects for the size of the 2002 wheat crop (mostly planted in May) remain very uncertain pending the weather in the coming months. Output of coarse grains in 2001 was also affected by the drought, falling sharply to 23 million tonnes, about 6 percent down from the previous yearís already reduced crop.

UNITED STATES (6 February)

The final official estimate of the 2001 wheat crop is 53.3 million tonnes, some 12 percent down from 2000 and the smallest crop since 1988. The decrease was mostly caused by a reduction in plantings, although average yields also fell somewhat compared to the previous year. According to the USDA Seedings report of 11 January, the winter wheat area for the 2002 harvest has declined again marginally from last yearís already low level, to 16.6 million hectares, the smallest area since 1971. Although, the Hard Red Winter wheat area (which accounts for about 70 percent of the total) is estimated to be about 1 percent up from the previous year, this increase is more than offset by reduced plantings of Soft Red Winter and White Winter wheat. Establishment of the crops in many key producing areas was somewhat patchy due to dry conditions at planting time and persisting dryness in these areas could lead to poor development when dormancy breaks in the coming weeks.

The 2001 coarse grains crop is now estimated at 262 million tonnes, almost 5 percent down from the previous year's crop and just below the average of the past five years. Of the total, maize is estimated to account for about 241 million tonnes, compared to 253 million tonnes in 2000. A record rice crop was harvested in 2001 following an 8 percent expansion in plantings and increased yields. All of the production gain was in the form of long grain rice, while low prices at planting time resulted in falling production of medium and short grain rice.


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