The report was prepared by the Production
Estimates and Crop Assessment Division, FAS, AGSTOP 1045,
14th and Independence Ave., Washington, DC 20250-1045. Further
information may be obtained by writing to the division, or by
calling (202) 720-0888.
This reports includes the weather briefs, production briefs, and commodity feature articles from the full World Agricultural Production circular, with the exception of some of the statistical tables and charts. This report draws on information from USDA's global network of agricultural attaches and counselors, official statistics of foreign governments, other foreign source materials, and results of office analysis. Estimates of U.S. acreage, yield, and production are from the USDA Agricultural Statistics Board, except where noted. This report is based on unrounded data; numbers may not add to totals because of rounding. The report reflects official USDA estimates released in the World Agricultural Supply Estimates (WASDE-330) September 12, 1997.
The report was prepared by the Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division, FAS, AGBOX 1045, 14th and Independence Ave., Washington, DC 20250-1045. Further information may be obtainedby writing to the division, or by calling (202) 720-0888, 9516, or by FAX (202) 720-8880.
We plan to issue PART 2 of this circular every month, normally 5 working days after the release of Part 1. The next issue of World Agricultural Production, Part 1, will be available electronically after 3:30 pm local time on October 14, 1997.
UNITED STATES: Corn development progressed ahead of the 5-year average in the Midwest with mostly good to fair growing conditions as the crop advanced into the dent stage. Warm weather and only periodic showers allowed rapid spring wheat harvesting in the northern Plains. Winter wheat planting began in the southern Plains. Unfavorable dryness persisted in the Southeast until early September rains boosted topsoil moisture. Widespread monsoonal thunderstorms continued in the Southwest.
CANADA: A drying trend that began in mid-August has favored ripening and harvest of Prairie grains and oilseeds. Lack of a killing freeze has also aided crop development, although a few locations have experienced light frost. In Ontario and Quebec, widespread showers broke a dry spell that was beginning to stress corn, but drier conditions are now needed for autumn fieldwork.
SOUTH AMERICA: In Argentina, above-normal August rainfall maintained adequate to abundant soil moisture levels across eastern Buenos Aires provinces. Rainfall eased dryness in southern Santa Fe and Cordoba, but more rain is needed. In southern Brazil, near to above-normal August rainfall favored reproductive to filling winter wheat.
EUROPE: Unseasonably warm and generally dry weather prevailed over northern Europe from August 8-24, helping small grain harvesting and boosting summer crop development. However, wet weather at month's end hampered late harvesting, especially in the United Kingdom. In early September, mild weather was accompanied by diminishing rainfall throughout most of Europe, boosting summer crop development and favoring late spring grain harvesting.
FSU-WESTERN: Below-normal precipitation in August in Belarus, the Baltics, and northern Russia favored fieldwork for small grain harvesting and winter grain planting. Above-normal rainfall in August in Ukraine and southern Russia hampered small grain harvesting but provided generous moisture for filling summer crops.
FSU-NEWLANDS: In Russia, frequent showers produced above-normal precipitation in August in the northern Urals and Western and Eastern Siberia, benefitting spring grains in the filling stage. In Kazakstan, wet weather in early August was followed by a drying trend that persisted into early September, benefiting spring grain harvesting.
SOUTH ASIA: The monsoon continued to be very active across central and eastern India and Bangladesh, maintaining adequate to excess moisture levels in most primary crop areas. Flooding of rice occurred in sections of the east. Unseasonable dryness dominated much of southern India and the northwest, although timely showers benefitted cotton and oilseeds in Andhra Pradesh. In late August, a band of heavy showers briefly covered the northwest, benefitting Gujarat's groundnuts but possibly harming soybeans and cotton. By early September, the monsoon showed signs of a normal withdrawal.
EASTERN ASIA: Rainfall from the remnants of Typhoon Winnie provided some drought relief to the eastern North China Plain and North Korea. The drought worsened across the western North China Plain, as rain is needed for the upcoming winter wheat planting season. Above normal August rainfall favored filling summer crops in Manchuria. Across southern China, August rainfall also averaged above normal, maintaining adequate moisture supplies, causing some local flooding.
SOUTHEAST ASIA: Below normal rainfall continued across Java in August, further stressing rainfed second-season crops. Drier weather returned to the Philippines, reducing moisture for main-season crops. Near-normal August rainfall favored crops throughout most of Thailand and Vietnam. But below-normal rainfall persisted across south-central Thailand. Rainfall averaged below normal across the oil palm areas of peninsular Malaysia.
AUSTRALIA: Since early August, widespread showers have increased moisture reserves throughout the western and southeastern winter grain belts. The rainfall in the southeast has been very timely for drought-stricken crops leaving their semi-dormant state. In Western Australia, the moisture is sustaining high yield prospects. Queensland remains the driest area, but early September showers helped heading to filling winter grains.
(More details are available in the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin. USDA/Joint Agricultural Weather Facility
During July 1997, the monsoon was very active over central and eastern India and Bangladesh, causing flooding and keeping soybeans and rice unfavorably wet. In contrast, July rainfall was below normal in western India and sections of the southern interior, although timely showers were recorded in the major grain, oilseed, cotton, and sugarcane areas. During the first week of August, heavy rain covered a stretch of central India from Rajasthan eastward to Bangladesh, benefitting rice and soybeans but raising concern of excessive wetness. Rainfall tapered off in groundnut, coarse grain, and sugarcane areas of west-central India, and light-to-moderate rain covered a broad area of India's southern interior. Monsoon showers, that week, continued to be widely scattered across northern India and Pakistan. From August 10 - 16, heavy rain persisted over major eastern rice areas. The rains extended westward into rice land from Andhra Pradesh to Bihar but declined somewhat over rainfed regions of eastern Madhya Pradesh, aiding crop growth. Similarly, warm, dry weather in soybean areas of western Madhya Pradesh favored crop development. Highly beneficial rain covered oilseed and cotton areas of Andhra Pradesh, but adjacent crop areas in the southern interior remained unseasonably dry, as did most groundnut areas of Gujarat. Farther north, scattered, locally heavy showers covered India's northern-most cotton and rice areas but missed Pakistan. During August 17 - 23, moderate-to-heavy showers returned to central India, boosting moisture reserves for the region's oilseeds, cotton, coarse grains, and sugarcane. Heavy rain continued over India's eastern rice areas, with amounts in excess of 100 millimeters returning to rainfed sections of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In contrast, unseasonable warmth and dryness covered primary crop areas of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
In the north, showers were unseasonably sparse from Pakistan to Uttar Pradesh. During August 24 - 30, moderate-to-heavy rain pushed into northwestern India and adjacent sections of Pakistan, increasing moisture reserves but likely resulting in some flooding. The rainfall was overall beneficial for groundnuts and other crops in Gujarat and Rajasthan following the several dry weeks. However, this wetness was unfavorable for soybeans in western Madhya Pradesh, and heavy rain in north-central India raised concern for cotton. Elsewhere, moderate rain benefitted oilseeds and cotton in Andhra Pradesh. Favorably drier weather aided crop development in eastern India for much of the week, but heavy rain returned to east-central rice areas by week's end. From August 31 through September 6, dry weather returned to the northwest as the monsoon gave some indication of its seasonal withdrawal. If this is indeed the case, the rainy season's end is progressing about on schedule, and one would expect seasonal drying to occur over the northern half of the region by mid-October. To the east, a pocket of very heavy rain likely flooded some rice along the central Ganges. Elsewhere, in the main rice areas, showers were generally patchy, although moderate showers continued from Bangladesh eastward. Warm, drier weather covered a large portion of India's central and southern interior, enhancing growth of immature grains, oilseeds, and cotton, but further reducing available moisture in chronically dry locations such as Maharashtra and Karnataka. Beneficial showers boosted moisture reserves in sections of Andhra Pradesh for immature oilseeds and cotton.
During July 1997, rainfall averaged near normal across the eastern corn belt. In the western corn belt, July rainfall averaged 50 to 80 percent of normal, reducing moisture for vegetative to reproductive corn. Across the northeastern states of Tamaulipas and eastern Nuevo Leon, drought developed during July as rainfall averaged less than 25 percent of normal and temperatures averaged 1 to 3 degrees C above normal. Portions of north- central Mexico (Coahuila) received near- to above-normal rainfall, while the rest of northern Mexico received below-normal rainfall. During the first week of August, light showers failed to increase soil moisture for reproductive corn across the central and western corn belts. Temperatures were above normal and increased stress on corn. Heavier showers maintained adequate moisture levels in the eastern corn belt. The drought continued across northeastern Mexico, lowering reservoir levels. An active monsoon brought moderate showers to northwestern Mexico, favoring pastures and increasing reservoir supplies. During the week of August 10 - 16, mostly dry weather increased stress on reproductive-to-filling corn across the main corn belt, especially in the west. Monsoon showers were light this week across northwestern Mexico, as drought continued across northeastern Mexico. During August 17 - 23, mostly scattered showers brought only limited relief to filling corn across the western main corn belt. Monsoon showers increased moisture across northwestern Mexico, as the drought continued across northeastern Mexico. During August 24 - 30, light rain brought little relief to stressed filling corn across the western corn belt. Heavier amounts benefitted corn in the east. Monsoon rains increased reservoir levels in northeastern Mexico. Scattered showers brought limited drought relief to northeastern Mexico. From August 31 through September 6, rainfall remained below normal across the western corn belt, stressing filling corn. Seasonable showers benefitted corn in the eastern corn belt. Moderate showers and cooler weather brought some relief to drought stricken northeastern Mexico. Sporadic monsoonal showers prevailed across northwestern Mexico.
In July 1997, rainfall averaged below normal across Java, except for near- normal rainfall reported in the extreme east. Below-normal July rainfall reduced moisture supplies across eastern peninsular Malaysia, while the western areas averaged near normal. During the first week of August, isolated showers brought little relief to rainfed second-season crops across Java. Showers eased dryness across the oil palm areas of eastern peninsular Malaysia. During August 10 - 16, scattered showers again brought some relief to rainfed second-season crops across Java, however, more rain was needed. Dry weather continued to reduce moisture supplies across southern Sumatra, while showers continued to ease long-term moisture deficits across eastern peninsular Malaysia. From August 17 through September 6, dry weather returned to most of Java, reducing moisture for second-season crops. Showers again improved conditions for oil palm across peninsular Malaysia. While this is the driest time of the year in Java, rainfall typically averages 5 to 15 millimeters per week.
Wheat production in the United Kingdom for 1997/98 is forecast at 15.5 million tons, down 1.5 million or 9 percent from last month's forecast and 4 percent below last season. The sharp decline in the production estimate for 1997/98 is the result of reductions in both area harvested and yield. Wheat area for 1997/98 is estimated at 2.0 million hectares, down 5 percent from August. This reduction is based on a downward adjustment in the area forecast by the UK's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (MAFF). Yield for 1997/98 is estimated at 7.64 tons per hectare, down 4 percent from the August forecast. This yield reduction results from excessive rainfall during the harvest period and is based on reports of harvest results.
China's 1997/98 cotton production is estimated at 17.5 million bales, up 0.5 million from last month, but down 1.8 million or 9 percent from last year. The projected yield of 847 kg/hectare is lower than last year's near-record yield but higher than the 5-year average of 784 kg/hectare. Serious drought in July and August stressed non-irrigated cotton in several key cotton- producing provinces, including Shandong, Henan, and Shanxi. Crop conditions improved in Jiangsu, Anhui, and eastern Shandong following beneficial rain in August, but the weather continues unfavorably hot and dry in the western part of the North China Plain. Bollworms were reported in several prefectures in Shandong and Xinjiang, but the insect has not posed a significant problem as in earlier years. High yields are projected in Xinjiang Province which has enjoyed normal weather this summer.
Cotton area is forecast at 4.5 million hectares, down 5 percent from last season and the lowest planted area since 1986. The area decline continues a downward trend that began in 1995. Farmers reduced cotton area in 1997 for several reasons, including higher labor and production costs compared to other crops, chronic problems with bollworm infestations, and government policies that promoted grain production. Farmers also were discouraged by stagnant cotton prices and tight Government controls on the cotton industry. However, cotton area continues to increase in the northwest province of Xinjiang, partially offsetting area movement to other crops in the North China Plain. Xinjiang's soils and climate are well suited to cotton cultivation and yields are among the highest in the country. Future area expansion in the province will be limited by irrigation supplies, since the province does not receive enough annual rainfall to produce cotton without irrigation.
China's peanut production for 1997/98 is estimated at 8.0 million tons, down 1.0 million from last month and down 2.1 million from last year. The projected yield of 2.22 tons/hectare is the lowest since 1992/93 and is based on continued drought in several major peanut-growing provinces on the North China Plain. Yield prospects have declined in Henan, southern Hebei, and western Shandong, where the weather was abnormally hot and dry for most of the summer. These three provinces account for more than 60 percent of China's total peanut crop. Moisture levels improved in eastern Shandong, Anhui, and Jiangsu following moderate-to-heavy rain in August, but the rain may have come too late in the season to boost yields. Excessive rainfall associated with Typhoon Winnie (August 20) reportedly caused additional damage to Shandong's peanut crop. The weather in southern China (where about 20 percent of the total crop is grown) has been wetter than normal this year.
Pakistan's 1997/98 cotton crop is forecast at 8.0 million bales, up 0.3 million from last month's estimate and 10 percent greater than last year's crop. Record production occurred in 1991/92 with 10.0 million bales. Area is forecast at 3.2 million hectares, unchanged from last year. Yield is forecast substantially higher than last year's insect reduced crop, leading to an estimated harvest of 8.0 million bales. This year's forecast yield of 544 kilograms per hectare is slightly above the five year average of 526 kilograms.
Weather, water availability, and low insect pressure have been favorable for crop development and fruit formation compared to last year. Irrigation water has generally been adequate. The availability of tube-well water compensated for the shortages in some pockets of Punjab caused by a canal breach. Widespread and well-spaced monsoon rains from mid-July through August supplemented water requirements. Recent floods initially generated stories of extensive damage; however, recent assessments indicate damage to be minor and isolated along river flood plains. Earlier rainfall and the widespread monsoon across the cotton growing areas reduced white fly populations, especially compared to 1996/97 crop. Farmers are successfully using specific pesticides to control white fly and heliothis (boll worm) attacks. Despite the flood losses, crop conditions are significantly better than last year.
India's 1997/98 cotton crop is forecast at 12.8 million bales, 5 percent lower than the record crop of 13.5 million produced in 1996/97, but 0.3 million higher than last month's estimate. Area is forecast at 9.0 million hectares, unchanged from last month, but 2 percent less than last year's record of 9.2 million. The forecast yield is 3 percent lower than last year's record of 321 kilograms per hectare, but 2 percent higher than the five year average. This year's monsoon arrived two weeks later than normal, generating concerns of dryness for some crop areas. Since that time, the rains have proved adequate and barring early withdrawl, the 1997 monsoon is expected to be declared normal. Monsoon rains have been beneficial for proper plant growth and have encouraged additional late-season planting activity in the central and southern states. The last areas planted are small pockets in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, which are typically sown during August and September. India's cotton crop continues to progress well under favorable weather across all major cotton growing areas. There are no reports of any major insect attacks except for some minor incidence of heliothis (boll worm) and white fly in the northern region.
The U.S. agricultural counselor's office in Sofia, Bulgaria reports that wheat and coarse grain production are forecast higher for 1997/98. Wheat production for 1997/98 is forecast at 7.0 million tons, up 0.5 million from last month's forecast. Barley output is forecast higher at 2.0 million tons, 0.4 million above the August forecast, and corn is forecast at 10.0 million tons, up 1.0 million from a month ago. Area and yield for both wheat and barley were increased this month; however, precipitation during the harvest was detrimental to the harvest of both crops, causing sprout damage and reducing quality. Conversely, the cool, wet weather was beneficial to the corn crop by improving yields. Although the corn crop development has been delayed by about 15 days, the crop is rated as good to very good.
As August began, crop conditions declined in the Corn Belt, with scattered showers providing limited or no relief from persistent dryness in an area extending from Missouri northeastward to New York. However, below-normal temperatures in the area moderated the stress somewhat and reduced evaporation rates. As the month progressed, widespread rains brought relief to dry fields. Although continued below-normal temperatures slowed crop development, corn and soybean progress remained ahead of normal in the western Corn Belt. Progress in the eastern Corn Belt slowed to near-normal levels. Above-normal temperatures in the Corn Belt and Plains the last week of August prompted rapid crop development.
Despite starting the month moist, soils in the Southeast and Texas turned dry. Condition of cotton, soybeans, peanuts, and other late-planted crops declined due to a lack of moisture. Cotton progress was behind normal in the Southeast, but ahead of normal in the western cotton-producing States. Likewise, rice fields in California progressed 2 weeks ahead of normal, while fields in the Southeast developed and were harvested behind the average pace. Peanut harvest was just underway late in the month.
The winter wheat harvest started late in the Northwest because of cool, wet weather earlier in the spring. Once harvesting started in Washington, it progressed rapidly under clear skies. The harvest in Idaho, Montana, and Oregon was hampered by showers and progressed behind the normal pace. Planting of the 1998 winter wheat crop was just underway at month's end. The spring wheat and barley harvest started slowly at the beginning of the month, but very warm, dry weather over the northern Plains allowed progress to surpass the average by the end of August. Oat harvesting progressed ahead of the normal pace for all of August.
Monsoonal moisture in the Rocky Mountains and central Plains provided adequate moisture for sorghum fields. Fields developed ahead of normal in most major sorghum-producing States, especially Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. Mid-month rainfall provided some relief from drought-like conditions in the mid-Atlantic States, but may have come too late to save some crops.
In crop areas west of the Ural mountains, precipitation in August was below normal in most of northern Russia (Central Region, Volga Vyatsk, Central Black Soils Region, and the middle and upper Volga Valley), Belarus, and the Baltics. The dry weather in these areas favored fieldwork for spring grain harvesting, and winter grain planting, which typically begins in late-August. However, topsoil moisture was becoming limited by month's end and rain was needed for winter grain germination. Farther south, above-normal precipitation continued July's wet weather pattern in Ukraine and North Caucasus, Russia, hampering small grain harvesting and lowering crop quality, but providing generous moisture for filling summer crops. Furthermore, the rains boosted topsoil moisture for upcoming winter grain planting. September is the optimum month for planting winter wheat in Ukraine and southern Russia. Since early September, widespread light showers in northern Russia, Belarus, and the Baltics moistened topsoils for winter grain emergence and establishment, and caused only brief delays in spring grain harvesting. In Russia, reports as of September 8 indicated that harvesting of small grains and pulses, excluding corn, was 69 percent completed. On September 1, the first sub-freezing temperatures of the season (-1 to -4 degrees C) occurred in extreme northern areas of Russia (northernmost areas in the Central Region, northern Volga Vyatsk, and the upper Volga Valley). Although the freeze occurred about 10 days earlier than average, it had little, if any, impact on maturing crops. Farther south, precipitation diminished in Ukraine and North Caucasus, Russia, allowing field preparation for upcoming winter grain planting. However, unseasonably cool weather slowed summer crop development.
In crop areas east of the Volga Valley, crop progress for spring grains ranged from filling to maturing during August. In Russia, frequent showers during August produced above-normal precipitation in the northern Urals and Western and Eastern Siberia, benefitting spring grains in the filling stage. In Kazakstan, periodic showers in early August were followed by a drying trend that began on August 11 and persisted until month's end, benefitting early spring grain harvesting but limiting moisture for immature crops. Since early September, dry weather over Kazakstan and the southern Urals, Russia, allowed rapid spring grain harvesting. Farther north, frequent showers and cool weather continued in the northern Urals and northern areas of Western and Eastern Siberia, benefitting immature spring grains but slowing crop development.
Tom Puterbaugh 720-2012 (September 1997)
Cotton production in Turkey for 1997/98 is forecast at 3.5 million bales, down 0.1 million or 3 percent from 1996/97. The crop was planted about three weeks late due to cool spring weather, which has increased the possibility of another rain-hampered harvest similar to last season. During 1996/97, cotton output declined from a record 3.9 million bales produced in 1995/96, to 3.6 million due primarily to rainy weather during the harvest which resulted in a yield loss of approximately 7 percent and reduced fibre quality. The unfavorable harvest weather was compounded by a growing shortage of farm labor, resulting in a prolonged harvest period. Farmers are likely to face a labor shortage again this year.
Turkish cotton is grown in three main regions: the Aegean, Cukurova, and southeastern Anatolia. Small amounts of cotton also are produced around Antalya. The Aegean region is the largest growing area, producing an average of 1.4 million bales annually. Aegean cotton generally is considered to be the best quality and is preferred for its longer staple length by the local textile industry.
Cukurova is located on Turkey's eastern Mediterranean coast and is characterized by large farms and hot, dry summer weather. Irrigation has made cotton planting profitable, but ecological problems created by excessive use of chemicals over the years and competition from other crops, especially corn, have caused cotton planting in the region to decline in recent years.
In southeastern Anatolia, cotton production is expected to expand significantly as a result of the Southeastern Anatolian Project (GAP), a rural and urban development project geared toward improving overall living standards in the southeastern part of Turkey. The GAP consists of a series of dams, power stations, tunnels, and canals designed to generate electricity and irrigate the plains surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The goal is to irrigate of 1.7 million hectares when completed. Initially, the project was expected to be finished by 2005, but government officials now concede that completion is unlikely before 2010. Currently about 50,000 hectares are irrigated as a direct result of the GAP, 80 percent of which is planted in cotton.
Agriculture and its related industries such as the textile mills are important to the Turkish economy since more than 40 percent of the population lives in rural areas and earn the bulk of their income from farming and related activities. As a result, agriculture and rural development are top priorities for the government. The massive investments in the GAP are the best example of the Turkish government commitment to agricultural development.
Cotton generally is planted between mid-March and mid-May and the harvest usually begins in mid-August and continues through November. The most popular variety in the Aegean region is "Nazilli 84"; in Cukurova "Carolina Queen" and "Delta pine "; and, "Stone Mill" in the Southeast Anatolia.
Most of Turkey's estimated 500 gins are privately owned with owners generally purchasing seed cotton from growers, unlike the United States where the grower maintains ownership throughout the ginning process. As a result, gins play an important role in domestic marketing channels. Nearly all gins in the Aegean region are roller gins, more suitable for the longer staple cotton. About half the gins in Cukurova and the Southeast are roller gins with the remainder being saw gins suitable for upland cotton or the shorter staple length cotton. The ginning rate averages 42 percent in the Aegean and 39 percent in Cukurova and the Southeast. Lint generally is graded at the gin and certified by government-regulated inspectors using a green card system similar to the system used in the United States. Domestic regulations require that all locally produced cotton be ginned before the end of April.
Each year the Turkish Government announces seed cotton support prices prior to harvest at a level below international prices. Domestic supply and demand conditions determine market prices. The government faces a dilemma of setting prices sufficiently high to encourage production but not excessively high so that the cost of raw materials puts the Turkish textile industry at a competitive disadvantage to textile industries of other nations.
Ron Roberson, Cotton Chairperson
Rain production in Canada for 1997/98 is forecast to decline due to a grower shift away from grains into oilseed production. Wheat production is forecast at 23.0 million tons, down 23 percent from 1996/97. Barley production is forecast at 13.5 million tons, 13 percent lower than last year, while oats and rye production also are forecast to decline. Corn production is forecast at 7.5 million tons, up just 4 percent from 1996/97. On-the- other-hand, rapeseed production is forecast to increase 21 percent from last year, to 6.1 million tons. Soybean production is forecast at 2.7 million tons, 24 percent ahead of 1996/97, while sunflowerseed production also is forecast to increase. Major factors affecting crop production this season have been less favorable weather resulting in lower yields and a shift in area from grains to oilseeds due to higher relative oilseed prices.
Unlike last year, price ratios in 1997/98 for the major grains and oilseeds grown in Canada did not favor small grains; therefore, Prairie farmers shifted land to rapeseed cultivation. Rapeseed harvested area for 1997/98 is projected at 4.8 million hectares, up 41 percent from last season, but 8 percent below where it was in 1995/96. Due to the shift in land away from grains, total wheat harvested area is forecast 7 percent lower this year, to 11.4 million hectares, but 2 percent higher than in 1995/96. A factor limiting further expansion of rapeseed area is crop rotation requirements. Area for the other small grains (barley, oats, and rye) also are forecast to be lower in 1997/98 at 4.7,1.5, and 0.15 million hectares, respectively.
Soybean area for 1997/98 is forecast at 1.05 million hectares, up from 0.86 million in 1996/97. Favorable soybean prices relative to wheat was part of the reason for the increase, but weather also was a significant factor. In the soybean growing area of Ontario and Quebec, a rainy autumn discouraged fall planting of winter wheat, and winter-kill caused the abandonment of still more wheat area. Excessive precipitation in the spring delayed corn planting and limited potential area, although corn harvested area is projected up 1 percent from 1996/97, to 1.05 million hectares. Because cool, wet conditions were detrimental to crops last autumn in northwestern Saskatchewan and northern Alberta, farmers in these provinces were unable to harvest many of their crops. Growers planned to harvest the remainder of their crops in the spring after the snow melted; however, additional rains made harvesting the crop in the spring difficult. Considering the harvest difficulties, overall abandonment rates for wheat in Alberta and Saskatchewan were not extreme--1.2 percent for Saskatchewan and 2.1 percent for Alberta. A cool, wet spring plus the fact that crops remained on the fields from the previous year further delayed plantings in the northwestern Prairie crop areas.
Planting across the central and southern Prairie was generally favorable. Heavier-than-normal snows plus spring rains gave the crops ample soil moisture at the beginning of the season. Rains in early May delayed the onset of the planting season, but more favorable weather later in the month allowed plantings to resume in a favorable time frame.
In the watershed of the Red River, winter snow and spring precipitation were excessive. Flooding forced evacuation of the Red River Valley south of Winnipeg and waters crested in Winnipeg during the first week of May. Planting usually begins in this area in the first two weeks of May, and the flood waters receded in time for planting to occur. Approximately 0.20 million hectares were affected, representing about 4 percent of Manitoba's farmland or about 1 percent of the farmland in western Canada.
Despite the generally favorable spring, drought during July and through the first week of August reduced crop yield potential across much of the western Prairies, especially in central and southern Saskatchewan and southern districts of Manitoba. Below average yields are now forecast for Canadian wheat, barley, oats, rye, rapeseed, and sunflowers. Rains returned to the affected areas in the second week of August helping later-maturing crops but too late for the early-maturing ones.
Warm temperatures across most of the Prairie Provinces pushed crops ahead of schedule. Harvesting was 33 percent complete by September 3 in Alberta. As of September 9, Saskatchewan Agriculture reported 61 percent of the crop had been combined compared to 17 percent for the preceding 5-year-average. The various regions of Manitoba were reporting that cereal crops were from 50 to 85 percent harvested as of September 9. Reports from northern and western Alberta, however, indicated harvesting was slow to begin.
Paul Provance, Regional Analyst