MEXICO (4 February)
Harvesting of the 2004 rainfed summer maize crop, which accounts for almost 85 percent of total production, is well advanced. Early forecast points to an aggregate 2004/05 marketing year maize output (winter and summer) of 22.5 million tonnes, about 9 percent higher than last year reflecting favourable weather conditions during the growing season and record plantings in Sinaloa state as a consequence of the government support programme for white maize. Harvesting of 2004 summer sorghum crop is still underway and prospects for the output are good, especially in key producing state of Tamaulipas where yields are expected to be well above normal level. Sorghum 2004 aggregate output (winter and summer) is provisionally estimated at record 7.1 million tonnes. Planting of 2005 winter wheat and maize crops, to be harvested from April-May, is under way and planting intentions point to an area of 1.1 million hectares for maize, similar to 2004 winter campaign, while an increase of about 10 percent is expected for wheat.
Wheat imports for 2004/05 marketing year (July/June) are expected to reach the record level of 4 million tonnes, due to the 2004 low production of 2.45 million tonnes (compared to last five years average of about 3 million tonnes) as a consequence of inadequate water supplies in the main producing states of Sonora and Baja California, which resulted in a reduction in plantings of about 15 percent of the important 2003/04 winter wheat crop.