|No. 5||Rome, November 2003|
Cereals: Current Production and Crop Prospects
Far East: Harvesting of the 2002 spring/summer wheat and coarse grains is completed or drawing to a close. Yields have generally been higher in most countries after favourable weather condition. Harvesting of the spring wheat crop has been completed in China and the overall wheat output in 2003 has been officially estimated at 86 million tonnes 5 percent below that of 2002, 15 percent below the average of the past five years and the lowest level since the mid-1980s. The decline in output is attributed to the smaller area sown; the area was reduced by 1.9 million hectares from last year to 22 million hectares, the lowest level of planting since 1950. A large area of arable land has been switched to more profitable crops such as vegetables, flowers, tea, fruits and soybeans or reforested under the government forestry policy. Sowing of winter wheat for the harvest due in the summer of 2004, which accounts for more than 90 percent of China’s wheat production, was delayed by about 10 days in the key growing provinces of Henan, Shandong and Hebei due to the late maize harvest making the land unavailable for the wheat planting. Flood damage kept farmers in some areas of Shaanxi province from planting their winter wheat. The 2003 wheat output in India also declined due to a reduction in planted area and is estimated at 69.3 million tonnes. This would be 2.5 million tonnes below last year’s level and 1.8 million tonnes below the average of the past five years, despite a big increase in yields after good rainfall.
Harvesting of maize had been completed in most regions of China as of late October but was still under way in the Northeast. The 2003 output has been estimated below earlier expectations at 114 million tonnes. This would be significantly below last year’s harvest of 121.3 million tonnes, reflecting a reduction in area and bad weather in the key maize growing areas. Harvesting of maize has also been completed in India and the 2003 output has been estimated at 13 million tonnes, 17 percent above last year and 11 percent above the average of the past five years as a result of an increased area and higher yields. Two other major coarse grain crops, millet and sorghum, also performed well this year reflecting the incentive of high prices during the planting period and excellent rainfall. The outputs for millet and sorghum in 2003 have been estimated at 9 million tonnes and 8.5 million tonnes, 46 percent and 20 percent above last year, respectively. Harvesting of the 2003 coarse grain crop was under way in Pakistan in late October. Output is forecast to reach just 2.1 million tonnes, 4.3 percent below last year’s level and 4.5 percent lower than the average of the past five years, due to the unfavorable weather condition.
In Asia, the main paddy crops are mostly nearing maturation in the Northern Hemisphere countries with some already in the harvesting stage. The monsoon patterns so far have been positive practically everywhere, giving potential for a good 2003 season.
The outlook for 2003 production in mainland China has diminished by 8 million tonnes since the last issue of Food Outlook because of drought in the southern provinces and excessive rains in the north. The adverse weather conditions have exacerbated the effects of a policy that has overly exposed producers to market forces this year. It is expected that overall output this season will decrease by 5 percent compared with last year’s to 165.8 million tonnes; all three paddy crops will be affected, and in particular the late one (grown only in the south).
The official forecasts for production in Cambodia, following a 6 percent expansion in plantings this season, range from 4.2–4.5 million tonnes. FAO has thus also raised its production forecast for the country by 200 000 tonnes this year, to 4.3 million tonnes.
Following the release of higher government estimates for the main ( Kharif) crop, the forecast for India’s total production in 2003 has been increased by 3 million tonnes to a new paddy total of 133.5 million tonnes. As the monsoon rains ended in mid-September, overall precipitation from 1 June to 30 September throughout India was reported as 2 percent above normal, with only 3 of the 36 meteorological subdivisions reporting below-normal rainfall. As a result, replenishment of reservoirs is proceeding satisfactorily; this has also heightened the prospects for the secondary Rabi crop (irrigated), now expected to reach 21 million tonnes, up from 14 million tonnes last year.
The 2003 season has ended in Indonesia, where official estimates indicate only marginal increases in paddy production to 51.8 million tonnes; lingering drought problems eroded the benefits of an early start to the season. With the 2004 season about to commence, the government has announced a production target of 53.5 million tonnes. Much of this growth will reflect a 2.4 percent increase in cultivation, especially in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Despite requests from producers for import protection, the government has been reluctant so far to raise tariffs, especially as such a move could cause cross-border shipments of rice to intensify, and these enter the country unrecorded. Indonesia remains committed to boosting production and reducing imports, as shown by the 13 percent rise in dry paddy support prices in 2003 to Rupees 1 725 per kg (US$193 per tonne).
Cold temperatures and insufficient sunlight during the summer devastated the crop outlook in Japan this season. Based on the latest official estimate, paddy production fell to a decade low of 9.8 million tonnes, 500 000 tonnes below the previous forecast and 12 percent less than last year. Similarly, adverse weather conditions reduced the size of the crop in the Republic of Korea, leading to a downward revision in output this season from 6.8 to 6.1 million tonnes, the poorest outcome since 1980.
Recent reports on Myanmar put production in the country at 24.6 million tonnes, substantially above the earlier forecast of 23.5 million tonnes and an all-time high that was made possible by good weather conditions. In addition, abolishing compulsory sales to the government at low prices last April may have encouraged farmers to extend their plantings.
The paddy season has now ended in Sri Lanka, where the combination of favourable weather, a return to peaceful conditions and the rehabilitation of agricultural infrastructure boosted paddy production for 2003. Based on the latest government figures, this season's paddy production estimate has been lowered somewhat from the previous forecast to 3.1 million tonnes, which is still 8 percent above the 2002 figure. The increase reflects a positive outcome of the Maha and Yala crops, which grew by 7 percent and 9 percent to 1.9 million tonnes and 1.2 million tonnes, respectively. With the 2004 season about to start, the preliminary forecast for production next season has been set at 3.5 million tonnes.
Following improved expectations concerning the main winter/spring crop, the latest production forecast in Viet Nam has been raised by about 1 million tonnes to some 34.7 million tonnes, a 1.8 percent increase over the 2002 level. This indicates improvements in yield, because the area cultivated with rice has been forecast to decline, partly reflecting ongoing policies to divert marginal lands towards other uses.
Production forecasts for the other major rice-growing countries in the region remain unchanged since the September report. Bangladesh should still achieve a record output this year, as the heavy flooding in September caused only slight damage to rice fields. In Thailand, production is forecast to increase to a record level of 27 million tonnes, as output from the main crop currently under harvest has been boosted by favourable weather conditions. In Pakistan, the official forecast remains at 6.5 million tonnes, only slightly above last year and substantially short of the levels achieved between 1998 and 2000. The rather modest outcome of the season is in part due to floods in August, which caused damage to IRRI rice varieties grown in the Sindh region. Prospects for this season’s output in the Philippines have also been maintained at 13.5 million tonnes (July/June), up from 13 million tonnes in 2002. The increase mainly reflects both government efforts to expand cultivation during the second half of the year in an attempt to recoup the losses related to El Niño incurred during the first half, and the wider use of hybrid and higher-yielding varieties by farmers.
World Cereal Production
Source: FAO 1/ Milled rice. 2/ Including milled rice. Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.
Near East: In Iraq, the 2003 cereal crop has been estimated at about 4.12 million tonnes, some 22 percent more than last year. The 2003 wheat production in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been estimated at 12.9 million tonnes, 447 000 tonnes higher than last year’s crop, mainly due to the good weather conditions and a high government support price. Harvesting of the 2003 coarse grain crops was completed in August/September and the latest information points to a significant increase in output of these crops also, by some 3 percent above the 2002 level and 31 percent above the average of the previous five years as a result of the good weather conditions. In Syria, the 2003 cereal production – mainly wheat – is forecast to reach about 5.6 million tonnes, some 5 percent less than last year. In Saudi Arabia, cereal production has been estimated at 2.1 million tonnes, about the same as last year and the average. In Turkey, cereal production increased somewhat compared to last year’s crop reflecting favourable weather conditions.
The paddy production forecast for the Islamic Republic of Iran underwent a large upward revision since the last report, following consultations with government officials, who estimated the crop at 3.1 million tonnes in 2002 and 3.3 million tonnes for the current season, well above previous FAO estimates. The increases reflected not only a return to normal weather conditions after three years of drought, but also an intensification of government support to the sector.
CIS in Asia: Favourable weather conditions and the availability of ample irrigation water over much of the region (except Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic and Armenia) have ensured that the 2003 cereal harvests nearly match last year’s bumper levels. The aggregate cereal harvest in the region has been estimated at 27.3 million tonnes, which is about 2 million tonnes down from last year’s harvest. This aggregate includes some 22.2 million tonnes of wheat, 2.7 million tonnes of barley and 1.5 million tonnes of maize. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan both reported record wheat crop harvests at 685 000 tonnes and 4.8 million tonnes, respectively. In Kazakhstan, the wheat output has been estimated at 11.7 million tonnes, some 1.2 million tonnes lower than last year’s record harvest. Smaller areas planted with cereals in Kazakhstan, frost and a relatively dry spring in the Kyrgyz Republic, Georgia and Armenia compromised the cereal crops in these other areas.
In the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) the aggregate cereal harvest has been estimated at 3.8 million tonnes, slightly down from last year’s harvest. This total includes about 2.5 million tonnes of coarse grains and 1.3 million tonnes of wheat. Unfavourable weather conditions and low cereal prices last year contributed to this year’s lower-than-expected output.
Northern Africa: Aggregate 2003 cereal output in the subregion is estimated to have increased by almost one-third compared with the last year to a record 35 million tonnes, reflecting favourable weather and adequate availability of agricultural inputs. Production of wheat has been estimated at more than 17 million tonnes, some 40 percent more than output in 2002. The major increase occurred in Tunisia, where output reached about 2 million tonnes, which is much higher than the exceptionally low level of 423 000 tonnes last year. A very significant increase has also been reported in Algeria, where wheat output is estimated to have doubled to some 3 million tonnes. In Morocco, production increased by about 50 percent to 5 million tonnes, while in Egypt output has been estimated at 6.8 million tonnes, which is slightly higher than both last year and the average. Production of coarse grains in the subregion, estimated at 12.7 million tonnes, also improved markedly in comparison with last year’s average crop. This improvement is due entirely to a sharp increase in the barley crop, estimated at almost 5 million tonnes, 2.7 million tonnes higher than the average crop harvested in 2002.
Paddy output in Egypt, the subregion’s major rice-producing country, has now been forecast to reach 6.0 million tonnes, slightly more than was predicted in the previous report, following official information that plantings, which covered a larger area than had originally been forecast, were about the same as for last year.
Western Africa: The harvesting of coarse grains, now under way in the subregion, will be completed in December. In the Sahel, where a series of joint FAO/CILSS Crop Assessment Missions are currently in the field to estimate 2003 cereal production, the overall crop prospects are favourable, and normal to above-normal harvests have been anticipated in most countries. Thus, output of coarse grains this year is expected to exceed both the 10 million tonnes harvested last year and the average for the previous five years. In Senegal and Mauritania, rainfall was inadequate until the beginning of August when precipitation increased over the main producing areas thereby replenishing soil moisture and improving crop prospects. Despite localized flooding in Burkina Faso, Chad, the Gambia, Mali and Niger, crops prospects in these countries remain favourable. In Niger, production of coarse grains in 2003 is currently estimated at 3.6 million tonnes, an increase of almost 12 percent compared to last year and one-third above average. In Guinea Bissau, coarse grain crop output has been compromised by large-scale infestations of grasshoppers in northern and eastern regions. Thus production figures for the aggregate cereal crop will depend on the outcome of the major rice crop, which will not be harvested until the end of the year. In Cape Verde, good rains in August should result in a sharp recovery of this year’s maize crop to be harvested in December. In the coastal countries along the Gulf of Guinea, growing conditions have been varied. Prospects for the main season crop are still uncertain in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia as a result of extended dry weather in July.
In Western Africa, the paddy crops are at the harvesting stage, and good crop levels are anticipated in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, which benefited from regular and well-distributed rainfall this season. Prospects are also positive for Nigeria owing not only to good rains but also to a presidential initiative to promote self-sufficiency in rice through a combination of increased tariff protection and dissemination of improved rice varieties, such as Nerica. By contrast, drought impaired the crops in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which are all expected to experience a shortfall this year. In Senegal, excessive rainfall last August was reported to have damaged paddy crops in the Fleuve Valley. Output this season is, however, still anticipated to attain levels 30 percent higher than the dismal 2002 outcome, although falling short of the excellent 2001 crop. The country recently launched a new strategy for development of the agricultural sector, based on a clear demarcation of the roles of public and private sectors. Some US$240 million has been earmarked for investment in rice in the Fleuve Valley over a three-year period.
Central Africa: The harvesting of coarse grains continues in Cameroon and the Central African Republic. In Cameroon, prospects for the current main-season harvest are favourable, reflecting abundant and widespread rains. Production is expected to increase in the northern Sahelian zone as well, where the harvest was reduced in some areas last year. Reflecting favourable weather, crop prospects are also favourable in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. By contrast, persistent insecurity is adversely affecting food production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
Eastern Africa: The 2003 aggregate wheat production in the subregion is forecast at about 2 million tonnes, about 9 percent above the average of the previous five years. In Ethiopia, where harvesting of the crop is about to start, prospects are favourable, reflecting good rains in the past months, and outputs are expected to increase from the previous year. In Sudan, where the crop has already been harvested, output was estimated at about 363 000 tonnes, 47 percent higher than last year.
Harvesting of the 2003 coarse grains has been completed for the southern parts of the subregion and is about to start in the northern countries. The subregion's 2003 aggregate output is forecast at about 20.4 million tonnes, 2 percent above average. In Somalia, the recently harvested 2003 main season Gu crop has been estimated at about 169 000 tonnes, 8 percent less than the post-war average. The important sorghum crop has dropped to about one-third of the previous year’s Gu production. In Tanzania, the 2003 coarse grains output has been estimated at 3.3 million tonnes, 10 percent below last year’s crop. Extended dry weather in several parts of the country between February and mid-March and early cessation of main season rains have resulted in lower yields. In Uganda, recent reports indicate an average-sized 2003 output as the result of satisfactory weather conditions. In Kenya, production of the long rains maize crop is forecast at about 2 million tonnes, similar to the average for the previous five years. In Ethiopia, the outlook for the coarse grain harvest has improved with the rains that have fallen over the past several months, and output is expected to improve over last year’s results. In Eritrea, production of coarse grains is anticipated to recover from the drastically reduced crop of 2002 mainly because of improved weather. In the Sudan, early indications suggest an overall average crop. In Burundi and Rwanda, planting of the 2004 first-season cereal crops has been completed. Early prospects are favourable, reflecting normal weather conditions so far.
Southern Africa: The outlook for the 2003 wheat crop, about to be harvested, has improved somewhat following an upward revision of the production forecast in South Africa, the largest producer of the subregion, in view of higher-than-expected yields. The second official forecast points to a crop that will be close to 1.7 million tonnes, which is still 28 percent lower than last year’s and below average. In Zimbabwe, the wheat crop is forecast well below both the reduced level of last year and the average, reflecting a decline in the area planted following land-reform activities.
Planting of the 2003/2004 coarse grains has started. Early prospects are uncertain, reflecting below-normal rainfall in the first half of October in South Africa, the largest producer in the subregion, coupled with an expected reduction of 10 percent in the area planted to maize as a result of poor price expectations. In most other countries of the subregion, land is under preparation for planting from November. The outlook is poor in Zimbabwe because of a critical shortage of seeds and other agricultural inputs. In Zambia and Malawi, the prevailing low levels of maize prices may result in planting reductions.
The subregion’s aggregate 2003 coarse grains output was estimated at 15.7 million tonnes, 7 percent above the 2002 average-sized crop. Production declined in South Africa but recovered from the reduced levels of the previous two years in most other countries of the subregion. However, in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland, the coarse grain outputs remained at below-average levels.
In Southern Africa, the 2003 paddy season has come to an end, and plantings of the main 2004 crops are under way in Madagascar and about to start in Mozambique, although some delays may be incurred in view of the drought prevailing in the two countries. Both countries had a positive 2003 season, with paddy production estimated to have risen by 4 percent to 2.8 million tonnes in Madagascar and by 19 percent to 200 000 tonnes in Mozambique. In the latter country, the government reportedly announced that it was considering raising rice import duties, in an attempt to shield producers from cheap rice imports, while investing in irrigation and rice processing infrastructure.
Planting of 2003/04 wheat crop is under way in Mexico. Seasonal storm rains since September have helped to replenish water reservoirs, increasing irrigation supplies and boosting soil moisture in the northwest growing areas of Baja California, Sinaloa and Sonora States. Preliminary forecasts indicate that the area planted should be similar to the average for the past five years.
Harvesting of the 2003 first season coarse grain crops has been completed in most countries of the subregion; planting of the second season maize has just started. In Mexico, the largest producer, where harvest of the maize spring/summer crop is still under way, normal to abundant rains in the past months benefited developing crops in the primarily agricultural southwestern areas. Heavy rains in the states of Chiapas and parts of Oaxaca resulted in flooding, but no flood-related damage to crops has been reported thus far. The 2003 aggregate production of maize (winter and summer crops) is forecast at 18.5 million tonnes, 8 percent below last year’s level but still an average size. Sorghum production is expected to reach 5.6 million tonnes, some 7 percent below the average of the past five years. In El Salvador, latest production estimates indicate a 2003 maize output of 578 000 tonnes, 9 percent below last year’s level and lower than was previously anticipated. In Nicaragua, the maize output of the main de primera season is provisionally estimated at 7.4 million tonnes, 11 percent higher than in the previous year. In Honduras and Guatemala, the maize crops were average-sized. In the Caribbean, seasonal storm rains did not affect production in Cuba, the Dominican Republic or Haiti, where cereal outputs have been estimated as average to above-average in size.
Concerning the main 2003 paddy crops, most countries in Central America and the Caribbean are either about to start harvesting or have already done so. In general, the season has been favourable with little damage reported from hurricanes or other climatic elements and in general production has been forecast to rise by about 4 percent to 2.4 million tonnes, which is almost unchanged from the forecast in the last issue of this report. Among the few changes that have been made, the forecast for Costa Rica has been revised slightly downward, following the release of official information for this season. According to the new figures, production failed to recover fully from the drought-reduced level of last season and is anticipated to remain well below outputs achieved between 1998 and 2001. The forecast for Mexico is now officially reported at 251 000 tonnes, slightly less than what was expected earlier. Although this figure implies a small recovery from last year, the sector continues to be constrained by rising production costs and strong import competition, which has encouraged farmers to leave the land idle or shift to other crops. The government has launched a series of programmes to assist farmers but there does not yet appear to have been a positive effect on the sector.
Planting of the 2003/04 wheat crop is under way in the southern areas of the subregion. In Argentina, the main wheat-producing country, harvesting is about to begin. Despite recent beneficial rains, unofficial preliminary forecasts point to a reduction in yields and production in some parts of the main growing area such as southwestern Buenos Aires and eastern La Pampa as a result of dry weather in August and September.
In Brazil, harvesting of the 2003 wheat crop has been completed; production is officially estimated at 4.5 million tonnes, about 55 percent above last year’s harvest. In Chile, harvesting is due to start in December and official forecasts point to 1.8 million tonnes. In the Andean countries, harvest of the 2003 winter wheat crop planted in May/June in Bolivia is about to begin; a slightly below-average crop size is anticipated. In Peru, the harvest is virtually completed, and national wheat production is expected to total about 190 000 tonnes.
Planting of the 2003 coarse grain crops, principally maize, continues in the Mercosur countries. In Argentina, planting of the 2003/04 maize crop has been delayed in some places because of insufficient soil moisture from persistent dry weather during August/September. Official sources indicate that plantings in 2003/04 should cover some 3.15 million hectares, close to last year’s figure. In Brazil, a record 2003 maize crop of 47.3 million tonnes has been harvested. Good results from the second zafrinha crop contributed to overall production success. Planting of the 2003/04 maize crop is under way in the main producing states in the south. In Chile, 2003 maize planting continues under generally dry conditions. As regards Andean countries, in Colombia normal to abundant rains are helping the planting and development of second-season crops, confirming an earlier maize production forecast of 1.2 million tonnes. In Peru, the 2003 maize harvest has been practically completed and aggregate production (white and yellow) is provisionally estimated at about the five-year average of 1.3 million tonnes. In Ecuador, land preparation activities are under way to start planting the 2004 maize from December. In Venezuela, harvesting of the 2003 maize crop just started and its outlook improved compared to previous forecasts thanks to beneficial rains during the summer growing season that helped boost yields. Unofficial forecasts have set 2003 maize production (mainly white maize to be used by the food industry) at some 1.4 million tonnes, which compares to the five-year average of 1.2 million tonnes.
Most countries in South America have harvested their main 2003 paddy crop and are preparing for the 2004 season. Overall, the region gathered an estimated 19.6 million tonnes this year, about 200 000 tonnes less than in 2002. Latest estimates point to a contraction of output in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, mainly as the result of weather vagaries early this year. By contrast, the season is forecast to end positively in Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana and Paraguay.
In the United States, the October USDA crop report estimated the 2003 aggregate wheat (winter and spring) output at 63.6 million tonnes, 44 percent higher than in 2002 and about 10 percent above the average of the past five years. As of 12 October, planting of the winter wheat crop for harvest in 2004 was reported to be progressing well; the pace of planting was slightly ahead of the previous year’s pace and the five-year average. In Canada, by mid-October, the wheat harvest was reported as virtually complete. Aggregate wheat production in 2003 has now officially been forecast at 22 million tonnes, 36 percent higher than last year’s output but nonetheless 4 percent below the five-year average. The quality of this year’s crop is reported to be significantly improved compared to last year as a result of the hot, dry growing conditions this summer.
The outlook for the United States 2003 coarse grain crop was mostly favourable as of mid-October. The USDA’s October forecast put aggregate coarse grain production at 278 million tonnes, about 13 percent above last year’s output. Maize is expected to account for about 259 million tonnes, compared to 229 million tonnes in 2002. By 12 October it was reported that 39 percent of the maize crop had been harvested, just ahead of last year’s harvesting pace but somewhat behind the five-year average. In Canada, the latest forecast of aggregate coarse grain production in 2003 has been revised slightly downward since the last Food Outlook report, to just over 26 million tonnes. Nevertheless, this would still be about 30 percent up from 2002, mostly reflecting a strong recovery in barley production after last year’s drought.
Regarding rice, as of 19 October 92 percent of the United States 2003 crop had been harvested according to official reports. Output is officially forecast at 8.9 million tonnes, slightly above the previous forecast but still below the 9.6 million tonnes harvested last year. A reduction in the area planted is responsible for the decline from last year’s record output, since yields achieved in the current season are estimated at a record high.
The FAO’s latest forecast for the 2003 drought-struck cereal output in the EU now stands at 190 million tonnes, 12 percent down from last year and the smallest crop since 1995. The region’s wheat output is estimated at 92 million tonnes and the coarse grain crop at about 95 million tonnes, compared with 104 million tonnes and 108 million tonnes, respectively, in 2002.
Weather conditions in the past few weeks have been generally favourable for winter grain planting throughout the region, with significant rainfall showers bringing adequate moisture for ground preparation and crop emergence in most parts. As of early October, only the south of the United Kingdom and the north of Italy were reported as still too dry and in need of more significant rains.
Among the CEECs, sharply reduced cereal outputs were recorded in virtually all countries in 2003, largely the result of prolonged drought last summer, although in some cases adverse growing conditions as early as planting time in the autumn of 2002 had already affected the crops. However, prospects for planting of the 2003/04 winter grains are favourable so far with timely rains in late September and early October increasing soil moisture levels, which had been greatly depleted after the summer drought.
In Bulgaria, cereal output in 2003 has been reduced to just over 4 million tonnes. Output of wheat, the major food crop, is officially estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, about 40 percent lower than last year. Similarly, the winter barley crop is also expected to be significantly reduced to about 450 000 tonnes, less than half of the 2002 level. Some rainfall in late September and early October improved conditions for autumn grain planting after the previously very dry conditions. However, prospects for the winter grains are uncertain amid reports that many farmers lack resources for the autumn fieldwork while the costs of some inputs, such as fuel, continue to rise. In the Czech Republic, final harvest estimates point to a smaller cereal output than was earlier forecast, confirming 2003 as the lowest production year in recent history. Wheat output has been estimated at 2.6 million tonnes, compared to an average of 4 million tonnes over the past five years.
In Hungary, the 2003 wheat crop has been estimated at 2.9 million tonnes, 25 percent down from the already relatively low crop of 3.9 million tonnes last year, and the smallest since 1999, previously the worst drought year. The summer maize crop has also suffered from the lack of moisture, and latest official forecasts have set output at 5.2 million tonnes, compared to the average-sized crop of 6.4 million tonnes last year.
In Poland, the 2003 cereal crops suffered from the harsh winter and summer drought, but the severity of the impact was felt somewhat less than in the more southern CEECs. The aggregate cereal output dropped to about 23 million tonnes from 26.6 million tonnes in the previous year. Romania, on the other hand, was among the countries hardest hit by drought in 2003. The wheat crop was devastated, with output reduced to an estimated 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. The outcome of the maize harvest is still uncertain: official reports continue to suggest that the maize area was larger than it has been in the past five years, but average yields have likely been much lower than normal and output is estimated at around 8 million tonnes.
In the CIS countries in Europe (Belarus, Moldava, Russian Federation and Ukraine) aggregate cereal production this year is down by more than 27 percent compared with 2002. Severely cold weather, frost and thin snow cover followed by an exceptionally dry spring were the main causes of this year’s significantly reduced cereal harvest in the region. The 2003 wheat harvest in Ukraine is now estimated at 4.4 million tonnes, which is nearly 78 percent lower than last year’s. In Moldova, wheat output fell by 82 percent, and in the Russian Federation by about 28 percent compared with the harvest in 2002. Winter cereal planting is well under way, and, given the relatively high cereal prices in the region, the area sown to winter cereals will probably increase slightly.
The 2003 coarse grains output in the region has now been estimated at about 51.5 million tonnes, nearly 4.3 million tonnes down on 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 and 5.8 million tonnes respectively in 2002. The barley harvest this year in the Russian Federation is estimated at 17.3 million tonnes, in Ukraine at 7.4 million tonnes and in Belarus at 1.6 million tonnes, which compares with 18.6 million tonnes, 10.4 million tonnes and 1.8 million tonnes respectively in 2002. Significantly larger areas planted with maize in Ukraine and Moldova is the main reason for higher output this year. The maize harvest is forecast at about 1.4 million tonnes in the Russian Federation, more than 5.7 million tonnes in Ukraine and 967 000 tonnes in Moldova.
Harvesting of the 2003 paddy crops is about to be concluded in most countries in Europe. The output in the EU remains forecasted at 2.4 million tonnes, down from 2.6 million tonnes in 2002. This decrease reflects an anticipated drop in output in Italy and Spain, the two countries most seriously affected by drought this summer. On the top of the production shortfall, the adverse weather conditions are reported to have lowered the quality of the grain harvested, with negative consequences on milling rates. While the new rice policy regime is to be introduced on 1 September 2004, when the new 2004/05 season starts, the limits for intervention purchases this season have been set at 100 000 tonnes, subject to revisions by the European Commission.
Elsewhere in the region, the estimate of paddy output in Bulgaria was raised substantially after the government doubled its estimate of last year’s crop to 18 000 tonnes, the highest level in the past decade. As indications for 2003 point to a larger crop than last year’s, the FAO forecast for 2003 has now been increased to 23 000 tonnes. Output in the Russian Federation this season is forecast at 530 000 tonnes, up 40 000 tonnes from the previous forecast and from last year. The revision reflects a reported 10-percent increase in plantings in the territory of Krasnodar, which normally accounts for some 80 percent of the country’s output.
Widespread rains throughout most of the main winter-grain producing areas have improved the prospects for the developing 2003 crops. Although winter grain sowing was delayed in many areas because of the late arrival of pre-sowing rains, a late spurt of planting activity brought the final winter grain area to about 19.4 million hectares, 9 percent more than in the previous season. Assuming that rainfall will be about average for the remainder of the growing season, wheat output in 2003 is now forecast to reach 24 million tonnes, more than two-and-a-half times the previous season’s drought-shrunk crop. Production of barley, the major winter coarse grain crop, is also expected to more than double to 7.3 million tonnes. Output of the 2003 summer coarse grains harvest dropped sharply because of reduced irrigation supplies resulting from last year’s drought. Sorghum and maize outputs were just about half of the previous year’s level at some 1.4 million tonnes.
Planting of the new 2004 season rice crop has already started in Australia. Despite favourable rains in July and August in New South Wales, where most of the production is concentrated, Abare’s September forecast for production in 2004 has been lowered to 440 000 tonnes. However, a recent assessment of the situation by the rice industry gives a more optimistic outlook for next year’s production, within a range of 750 000–900 000 tonnes in New South Wales alone. If confirmed, the news would still point to a shortfall compared to the pre-drought levels, but the drop is much smaller than what has currently been forecast by Abare.