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 and Demand Estimates (WASDE-332) November 10, 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 obtained by 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 December 12, 1997.
WORLD AGRICULTURAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS November 10, 1997 UNITED STATES: An unusually early blizzard and record low temperatures hit the central Plains in late October, not only halting fieldwork but also causing significant livestock loss in Colorado. Corn and soybean harvesting progressed ahead of average. Wet weather delayed cotton harvesting in the Southeast and slowed fieldwork in the Northwest . Generally favorable conditions prevailed in the Southwest and the northern Plains. SOUTH AMERICA: In southern Brazil, excessive rain in early October caused flooding and slowed soybean planting. The rains also reduced winter wheat quality and caused some crop damage. Showers boosted topsoil moisture in the center-west for soybean planting. In central Argentina, above-normal October rainfall increased topsoil moisture for summer crop planting and reproductive winter wheat, especially in Santa Fe. EUROPE: Mostly dry weather since mid-October in England, France, Germany, and northern Italy benefitted summer crop harvesting and winter wheat planting. In eastern Europe, unseasonably cold, dry weather limited winter wheat establishment in Hungary and Slovakia, while cold, wet weather in southern Romania and Bulgaria slowed summer crop harvesting and late winter wheat planting. Periodic showers and cold weather in northern Greece hampered cotton harvesting. FSU-WESTERN: Above-normal precipitation in October in Ukraine and Russia hampered summer crop harvesting but provided abundant moisture for winter grain development. Winter grains in the north entered dormancy by late October at typical dates. Below-normal temperatures since mid-October in Ukraine and southern Russia limited winter grain establishment. NORTHWESTERN AFRICA: Preparations for winter grain planting were taking place in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Early-season rains in Algeria and Tunisia likely prompted early winter grain planting. SOUTH AFRICA: October rainfall promoted planting in northern and eastern sections of the corn belt. However, southern corn areas remain too dry for planting. More rain is needed across the corn belt and in coastal sugarcane areas for normal development, as early-season rains have so far been sporadic. Elsewhere, persistent warmth and dryness enabled rapid dry down of winter wheat in Western Cape, but locally heavy rain raised some quality concerns on the eastern edge of the crop area. SOUTH ASIA: Despite the monsoon's withdrawal, unseasonable, locally heavy showers continued from Pakistan to central India. While increasing long-term moisture reserves for winter grains and oilseeds, the rain kept maturing summer crops unfavorably wet. Greatest concern was for cotton. EASTERN ASIA: Below-normal October rainfall reduced moisture for winter wheat germination but hastened summer crop harvesting across the North China Plain. Supplemental irrigation will be needed for adequate wheat establishment. Below-normal rainfall favored rice harvesting across most of the Korean Peninsula and southern Japan. SOUTHEAST ASIA: Drought continued across Java and southern Sumatra during October, delaying main-season rice planting. Above-normal October showers boosted moisture supplies for second-season crops across northern Thailand and Vietnam, but slowed main-season crop harvesting. Typhoon Ivan hit northern Luzon on October 19, bringing needed rain but causing minor crop damage. The northern and central Philippines experienced below-normal October rainfall. AUSTRALIA: In October, a drying trend benefitted maturing winter grains and promoted sorghum and cotton planting. However, immature wheat and barley across the southeast required additional rainfall for normal development as periods of unreasonable warmth accelerated growth. In early November, soaking rains across the southeast provided most winter grains with adequate moisture for the remainder of the season. Highly beneficial rain also covered summer crop areas of southern Queensland, favoring crop establishment. (More details are available in the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin. USDA/Joint Agricultural Weather Facility WEATHER BRIEFS ARGENTINA: CROPS FAVORED BY SEASONAL RAINFALL During September 1997 near- to above-normal rainfall favored vegetative winter wheat in central Argentina. However, below-normal rainfall prevailed across Santa Fe, reducing soil moisture for vegetative wheat. During October 1 - 11, light to moderate rain favored reproductive winter wheat and boosted topsoil moisture for early corn and sunflower planting in central Argentina. Above- normal temperatures aided summer crop germination. During October 12 - 18, widespread rain helped reproductive and filling winter wheat. However, the moisture slowed corn and sunflower planting. During the week of October 19 - 25, drier weather, supported summer crop planting across Buenos Aires. In Santa Fe, rain increased soil moisture reserves which had been tending below average. Moderate showers benefitted germinating cotton across northern Argentina. From October 26 through November 1, widespread rain covered central Argentina, boosting topsoil moisture for summer crop planting and reproductive winter wheat. Heavier rain fell across northern Argentina, boosting moisture supplies for cotton. Warmer-than-normal temperatures continued to favor crop germination and development. During November 2-8, somewhat drier weather assisted sunflower, corn, and cotton planting. INDONESIA: DROUGHT CONTINUES ACROSS JAVA AND SUMATRA During September 1997, drought intensified across Java and southern Sumatra, where only scattered rainfall was reported. During October 1 - 11, drought remained entrenched across Java and southern Sumatra, reducing moisture for the upcoming main-season rice crop. Showers boosted moisture supplies across Malaysia and the remainder of Indonesia. During the week of October 12 - 18, isolated moderate showers brought little drought relief to Java and southern Sumatra. From October 26 through November 8, mostly dry weather prevailed across southern Sumatra and Java. Indonesia's main-season rice, typically planted from October through January, will face planting delays and moisture shortages unless the rainy season begins soon. Typically, rainfall should increase markedly during November and December in Java, though amounts may continue to be well below normal through February due to the El Nino. TURKEY: SEASONAL RAINFALL During September and early October, rainfall was above normal across western and southern Turkey. Heavy rainfall favored the establishment of winter wheat, but hurt the quality of cotton. From mid-October to early November, western and southern Turkey has been mostly dry. During this time rainfall was more frequent across eastern Turkey, benefitting winter wheat establishment. PRODUCTION BRIEFS AUSTRALIA: 1997/98 WHEAT PRODUCTION FORECAST IMPROVES Australia's 1997/98 wheat production is forecast at 17.5 million tons, up 0.5 million from last month's estimate, but 25 percent less than last year's record crop of 23.6. Area is forecast at 10.8 million hectares, unchanged from last month, but down 0.5 million from last year. The month-to-month yield increase reflects improved growing conditions in South Australia and Western Australia. This season's yield forecast of 1.62 tons per hectare is 6 percent below the 5-year average of 1.73 tons per hectare. During the final week of October heavy rains occurred in the southeastern growing regions, ending nearly 3 weeks of dryness. Australian state agronomists indicated that this rainfall came at the end of a critical window for crop development and aided grain fill, but due to the advanced stage of the wheat, its full benefit may not have been realized. Western Australia, which historically produces 40 percent of Australia's wheat, is projected to produce another bumper harvest with yields estimated at a record level. Cumulative precipitation in many of Australia's growing areas has been below normal and has resulted in varying degrees of crop stress throughout the season. Harvesting is underway in Queensland and northern New South Wales, while in South Australia and Victoria wheat harvesting begins in early December. Crop conditions in Western Australia remain favorable. AUSTRALIA: 1997/98 BARLEY PRODUCTION FORECAST IMPROVES Australian barley production for 1997/98 is forecast at 5.2 million tons, up 11 percent or 0.5 tons from last month's estimate. Area is forecast at 3.2 million hectares unchanged from last month and only slightly below last year. Yield is forecast of 1.63 metric tons per hectare for 1997/98 reflecting improved growing conditions in South Australia and Western Australia. Heavy rains occurred during the final week of October in the southeastern growing regions, ending nearly 3 weeks of dryness. Australian state agronomists determined the rainfall came at the end of a critical window for crop growth, aiding grain fill, but due to the advanced stage of development, the crop may not realize the rain's maximum benefit. Barley production in Western Australia, which historically produces 30 percent of Australia's barley, is projected at a record level. INDONESIA: LONG DRY SEASON REDUCES THIRD RICE CROP A long dry season this year (attributed to El Nino) has reduced the prospects for Indonesia's third rice crop. The effect on the 1996/97 crop (harvested Jan.-Dec. 1997) was limited by the fact that the rains did not stop until May- June which allowed for an excellent main-season harvest in February-March and conditions were generally favorable for the second-crop rice harvested in July-August. These first two harvests account for just under 80 percent of Indonesia's annual rice production. However, the third crop, grown in the last trimester of the year, was reduced by below normal precipitation. Total production for 1996/97 on a milled basis is estimated at 32.0 million tons, down from the October estimate of 32.9 million tons. Yield is forecast lower as harvested area is estimated unchanged at 11.3 million hectares. INDONESIA: CORN PRODUCTION ESTIMATE LOWERED Corn production for 1997/98 is estimated at 6.5 million tons, down from 7.0 million in October and equal to the estimate for 1996/97. Area is estimated at 3.5 million hectares, down from 3.6 million in October, and down marginally from 1996/97. Yield is estimated at 1.86 tons per hectare, up slightly from 1996/97. Despite reports of increasing use of hybrid seed, yields have not shown a significant upward trend over the last decade. Rains, marking the end of the dry season in East Java and South Sumatra, normally start picking up in September and October, but have been delayed this year. PAKISTAN: COTTON CROP SUFFERS STORM DAMAGE Pakistan's 1997/98 cotton crop is forecast at 7.7 million bales, down 4 percent or 0.3 million bales from last month, but up 5 percent from last year. Area is forecast at 3.2 million hectares, unchanged from last year. Yield is forecast at 524 kilograms per hectare, only slightly below the 5-year average of 526 kilograms. This month's reduction in forecast yield resulted from severe rain storms which occurred in late October in northern Punjab. The recent heavy rains and floods have generated stories of extensive damage; however, recent assessments indicate only limited damage. Despite some losses, crop conditions are significantly better than last year. ITALY: CORN PRODUCTION ESTIMATE LOWER Italian corn production for 1997/98 is estimated at 9.5 million tons, down 5 percent from October, and virtually unchanged from 1996/97. Corn area this year was nearly the same as last year. With the corn harvest complete, yield is estimated at 9.1 tons per hectare, down from last year's record of 9.3 tons per hectare. Below normal precipitation for planting was followed by excessive rains in June. Mostly dry weather was the norm during late season development with favorably dry weather occurring for harvest. Italy has seen a large increase in corn yields in the last few years, reaching 8.0 tons per hectare for the first time in 1992/93. NIGERIA: PEANUT DATA SERIES REVISED Information provided by the U.S. agricultural attache in Lagos resulted in a re-evaluation of the data series for Nigerian peanut production. This month, Nigeria's peanut production estimate for 1997/98 is revised to 1.75 million tons, up from 0.25 million, and peanut harvested area is raised to 2.00 million hectares from 0.50 million. Similarly, 1996/97 production and area are revised upward to 1.72 from 0.25 million tons and to 1.83 from 0.50 million hectares. Increases also have been made to previous year's estimates. Peanuts have gradually been gaining popularity across the savanna zone of Nigeria over the years. Area planted to peanuts for 1997/98 is estimated to have increased 10 percent from 1996/97; however, output is estimated to increase 2 percent. A reduction in yield is due to the non-availability of fertilizers and improved seed varieties. There were no reported incidences of major pest or disease outbreaks this season; however, there were reports of minor damage from armyworm and termite attacks in some states. UNITED STATES: CROP CONDITION AND PROGRESS Very warm, dry weather in the eastern United States provided excellent harvest conditions the first half of October. In the Corn Belt, soybean growers harvested their crop at a near-record pace. As soybean harvest finished, farmers immediately switched to harvesting the Nation's corn acreage. At mid-month, a killing frost and an early-season snowstorm provided the necessary conditions for drying the corn crop. Heavy snow slowed harvest for several days in the western Corn Belt. After moisture levels dropped, harvest activity surged ahead of the normal pace. Soybean harvest was slowed by late-month showers in the Southeast. Some grain storage shortages were encountered as grain bins filled rapidly and some elevators were forced to use temporary storage facilities. Cotton harvest progressed ahead of normal in the western cotton-producing States, but behind normal in eastern States. Unseasonably hot weather in the Southwest helped cotton fields to dry out after Tropical Storm Nora. Much-needed heat helped the Texas crop progress early in the month. However, heavy rains and flooding caused lint loss and damage to quality at mid-month. Farmers in the Southeast harvested cotton, rice and peanuts between rains. Rice harvest neared completion at mid-month and peanut harvest was in the later stages by the end of October. Favorable weather during early October allowed sorghum growers to harvest ahead of the normal pace in the Plains and Corn Belt. However, the early-season snowstorm on October 24-25 halted activity in Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. Harvest of fall-season crops proceeded under favorable conditions in the northern Plains most of the month, but above-normal precipitation hampered fieldwork in the Northwest. Early-month moisture fell along the middle and northern Atlantic Coast, but came too late to help most crops. Late-month showers hampered harvest efforts in these States. Early in the month, very warm, dry weather allowed planting of the 1998 winter wheat crop to progress rapidly in many States, especially Kansas, Oklahoma, and Oregon. Planting also progressed rapidly in the Corn Belt as farmers immediately followed a rapid fall harvest with winter wheat seeding. Later on, a major early-season storm system brought blizzard conditions to the central Plains and western Corn Belt, as well as rain to the southeastern United States. Although planting was delayed by the storm, newly emerged fields benefitted from the precipitation. Rainfall early and late in the month benefitted seeded acreage in the Pacific Northwest. FORMER SOVIET UNION: WEATHER AND CROP DEVELOPMENTS In spring grain areas east of the Ural mountains, unseasonably dry weather prevailed over most of Russia and Kazakstan during the period October 1-7, helping late spring grain harvesting. In crop areas west of the Ural mountains, wet weather continued in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltics and Belarus in October. The precipitation in northern Russia, the Baltics, and Belarus fell frequently during the month. More than twice the normal amount of rain fell over the eastern half of Ukraine and southern Russia (Central Black Soils Region, lower Volga Valley, and North Caucasus), hampering corn, sunflower, and sugar beet harvesting and late winter grain planting. About October 18, a drying trend began in Ukraine that continued until month's end, improving conditions for fieldwork. Near-normal temperatures prevailed over northern areas of Russia in October, allowing further winter grain establishment prior to dormancy. By late October, winter grains in northern Russia were in or entering dormancy with sufficient hardening. In Ukraine and southern Russia, well below-normal temperatures halted further vegetative growth of winter grains. Since early November, light snow has fallen over winter grain areas from the Baltic States and Belarus eastward through northern Russia. In Ukraine and southern Russia, a mixture of light rain and snow was accompanied by continued unseasonably cold weather, slowing late harvest activities and prompting winter grains to begin entering dormancy. The continued cold weather in these areas limited the establishment of late-planted crops. Tom Puterbaugh 720-2012 (November 1997) FEATURE COMMODITY ARTICLES MAJOR WORLD COTTON PRODUCERS World cotton production for 1997/98 is forecast at 90.2 million 480-pound bales, up 1 percent from the 1996/97 crop. World area is forecast to increase just under one-half a percent while yield is up a similar amount from a year ago. The world's largest cotton producers, the United States and China, are projected to account for 41 percent of global production, down from 43 percent last year. The top seven producers of 1997/98, including the United States and China, are expected to contribute 77 percent of the world cotton output compared with 79 percent in 1996/97. Although most of the major producers had large crops, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Australia are the only major producers forecast to exceed last year's output level. Production in the other major producers were down because of insect damage, disease, drought, and/or floods. This report highlights the top seven cotton producing nations which include the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Australia. These countries are estimated to produce 69.1 million bales of cotton this season and are ranked based on estimated production for 1997/98. United States: The United States is currently the world's largest cotton producer. Output for 1997/98 is estimated at 18.8 million bales, down 0.1 million from last year. By late October, bolls were open on all the Nation's cotton acreage and by early November cotton harvest had advanced to 71 percent complete, slightly below last year's level but equaling the five-year average. Cotton harvest progressed ahead of normal in the western States but behind normal in the eastern States. Unseasonably hot weather in the Southwest helped cotton fields to dry out after tropical storm Nora. Early in October, much-needed high temperatures helped the Texas crop mature, allowing 62 percent of the crop to be harvested by early November. In the Delta States of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee, the crop remained in mostly fair to good condition during October. By mid-October, about one-fourth of Mississippi's crop was rated in excellent condition, while Arkansas had 17 percent in excellent condition. In early November, harvest activities exceeded the 5-year average pace in Louisiana and Mississippi. Louisiana had 98 percent of the crop harvested, 6 percent over the 5-year average, while Mississippi producers were 85 percent complete, 1 percent above average. Harvest in the other States was about three-fourths finished, slightly behind their normal pace. In early November, Arizona's harvest was 64 percent complete, 4 percent below the five-year average, as rains during the previous month slowed harvest activity. California's harvest in the southern areas was slightly delayed from the rainfall associated with tropical storm Nora, but harvest statewide was 9 percent ahead of the normal pace of 66 percent. Harvest was completed in the Imperial and Sacramento Valleys and progressed normally in the San Joaquin Valley. In the Southeastern States of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, late October rains delayed harvest. In North Carolina only 34 percent of the acreage was harvested by early November, 21 percent behind the average and Georgia had 47 percent of the acreage harvested, compared to the an average of 58 percent. South Carolina producers also lagged behind the average, harvesting only 41 percent, down 13 percent from the five-year average. China: The world's second largest cotton producer is estimated to produce nearly one-fifth of the global output this year, despite unfavorable growing conditions on the North China Plain. China's 1997/98 cotton production is estimated at 18.0 million bales, down 1.3 million or 7 percent from last year. The projected yield of 871 kilograms per hectare is lower than last year's near-record yield but higher than the 5-year average of 784 kilograms per 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 continued 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 did not pose a significant problem as in earlier years. High yields are projected in Xinjiang Province which enjoyed normal weather this past summer. Cotton area in China 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 on 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 that province will be limited by irrigation supplies, since it does not receive enough annual rainfall to produce cotton without irrigation. India: The 1997/98 cotton crop is forecast at 12.9 million bales, 6 percent lower than the record crop of 13.8 million produced in 1996/97. Heavy rains in northern India over the past month have reduced the crop to an estimated 12.9 million 480-pound-bales, down 0.2 million from last month. Rain in the States of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan reduced quality and lowered yield expectations. Total area is forecast at 9.0 million hectares, 2 percent less than last year's record 9.2 million. The forecast yield of 312 kilograms per hectare is 5 percent lower than last year's record of 327 kilograms per hectare, but only 1 percent higher than the five-year average. This year's monsoon arrived two weeks later than normal, creating concerns of dryness for some crop areas. Since that time, the rains have proven adequate. Monsoon rains were beneficial for proper plant growth and encouraged additional late- season planting activity in the central and southern states. The last areas planted were small pockets in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, which were sown during August and September. India's cotton crop continues to progress well under favorable weather across the major cotton growing areas of the central and southern regions. There were no reports of any major insect infestations except for some minor incidences of bollworms and whiteflies in the northern region. Uzbekistan: Production in 1997/98 is estimated at 5.5 million bales, up 0.8 million or 16 percent from last year. Lint yield is forecast to rebound to 798 kilograms per hectare, up 16 percent from last year. Despite unusually heavy rainfall during March and April that caused extensive replanting, the cotton crop benefitted from above-average temperatures during June as the crop advanced into the reproductive stage. Temperatures are above average so far this harvest season which should allow for continued high yields. The 1996/97 crop was plagued by unfavorable weather from planting to harvesting. Just after emergence, the crop was damaged by cool, wet conditions reducing yield potential. Weather problems continued as late-season rains and cool weather combined to reduce both quality and yield. Pakistan: For 1997/98, the cotton crop is forecast at 7.7 million bales, up 5 percent from last year's insect-reduced crop. However, this forecast is down 0.3 million bales from last month as heavy rain in the northern cotton area of the Punjab caused both yield and quality losses. Area is forecast at 3.2 million hectares, unchanged from 1996/97. Yield is forecast at 524 kilograms per hectare, slightly below the five-year-average of 526 kilograms, but substantially higher than the 497 kilograms per hectare for the 1996/97 insect damaged crop. Weather, water availability, and low insect pressure have been favorable for crop development and fruit formation compared to last year. Irrigation water generally has 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. The widespread monsoonal rains across the cotton growing areas reduced whitefly populations, and farmers also successfully used specific pesticides to help control whiteflies and bollworms. The recent heavy rains and floods have generated stories of extensive damage; however, recent assessments indicate only limited damage. Despite some losses, crop conditions are significantly better than last year. Turkey: Cotton production in for 1997/98 is forecast at 3.3 million bales, down 0.3 million or 8 percent from 1996/97. The crop was planted about three weeks late due to cool spring weather. The late sown crop 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 resulting in a yield loss of approximately 7 percent and a reduction in fiber quality. The early seasonal rains, which arrived in September, were heaviest in Southeast and Aegean Regions, Turkey's largest producing areas. The rains continued into October, and with only an estimated 60 percent of the crop harvested in these regions, significant yield loss and quality damage occurred. The unfavorable harvest weather was compounded by a growing shortage of farm labor, resulting in a prolonged harvest period. This season, heavy rains have again occurred over the cotton area; however, harvest is further along than last year. Picking is nearly complete in Cukurova and around 30 percent remains in the field in both the Aegean and the Southeast Regions. Australia: Production for 1997/98 is estimated at a record 2.9 million bales, up 0.1 million or 4 percent from last year. High reservoir levels of at least 75 percent of capacity and heavy rains in the September/October period have boosted Australia's cotton production prospects in 1997/98. As a result, both irrigated and dryland cotton areas are projected to increase. The area planted is estimated at a record 430,000 hectares, up 35,000 or 9 percent from last year. Without the shortages of irrigation water and soil moisture that hindered the Australian cotton industry in the recent past, a record 345,000 hectares of irrigated cotton is forecast to be planted in 1997/98, up 20,000 from 1996/97 irrigated area. After recent rains across New South Wales, dryland planting progress is estimated between 10,000 and 48,000 hectares. The dryland areas in cental Queensland have yet to be sown because of insufficient soil moisture levels. On a national basis, this is not a problem since the planting window is large and the area is relatively small. Ron Roberson, Cotton Chairperson Phone: (202) 720-0879 E-mail: email@example.com WEST AFRICAN GRAIN PRODUCTION Total grain production in West Africa for 1997/98 is forecast at 32.66 million tons, virtually unchanged from 1996/97. Area harvested is forecast in at 37.53 million hectares, nearly unchanged from last year. For the purposes of this article West Africa includes the following countries: Benin, Burkina- Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Rain came to the Sahelian zone earlier than usual this season, but it also experienced dry periods. The dryness extended into late-July and early- August, followed by a return to near normal rainfall except in northern Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania. In the western part of the Sahel, harvest prospects improved following abundant and widespread rains in September. Meteorologist have identified a tropical weather front that passes across West Africa as the Intertropical Convergence Zone, also called the Intertropical Front or the Intertropical Discontinuity (ITD). The ITD can be characterized by two main air streams in the lower atmosphere. Simply stated, moist, warm air with south to southwesterly winds forms a wedge under dry and relatively hot air with north to northeasterly winds. The ITD provides a means for following the south-north motions of the rain- producing southerly air whose depth and motion influence rainfall rate and duration. Rainfall is minimal near the ITD, where the moist air is too shallow to support thunderstorms. Rainfall increases south from the ITD, reaching a maximum some 500 to 600 miles to the south. The ITD tracks northward during the spring and early-summer, reaching its northernmost position near the 19th parallel around mid-August, when rainfall in the Sahel peaks. After August, it typically retreats rapidly southward. The ITD location during the West African growing season (June-September) is closely related to both cumulative rainfall and crop production. For the 1997/98 season, the ITD progressed northward at a near-normal pace, peaking during mid-August and retreating thereafter. However, in July the ITD was slightly south of its normal position which caused dryness in parts of West Africa, such as in Senegal and Mauritana. From August to October, the ITD was slightly north of normal. The deviation resulted in unusually dry weather in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana during September. Benin: Total grain production in Benin for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.65 million tons, down marginally from 1996/97. The area harvested increased slightly from last season to an estimated 0.68 million hectares. Corn and sorghum are the main crops grown, with output forecast at 0.50 million and 0.11 million tons, respectively for 1997/98. A decline in rice output is due to dry weather. Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, total grain production for 1997/98 is forecast at 2.47 million tons, up from 2.43 million in 1996/97. Area harvested is also projected to increase in 1997/98 and is forecast at 2.98 million hectares, up from 2.89 million in 1996/97. Sorghum and millet are the main crops grown, with production forecast at 1.30 million and 0.80 million tons, respectively. A slight increase in output is due to favorable rainfall in July despite an earlier 4-week dry spell. Minor grasshopper and caterpillar infestations were reported, but were treated. Chad: Total grain output in Chad for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.80 million tons, up marginally from 0.79 million in 1996/97. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 1.27 million hectares, down marginally from 1996/97. Millet is the main crop produced with output forecast at 0.65 million tons for 1997/98. Early-season dryness caused planting delays, but above-normal rainfall in mid August stabilized crop prospects. Harvesting activity has begun, and some insect damage was reported along with damage by birds in the central Sahelian zone. Also, African locusts in Chari-Baguirmi, south N'Djamena caused minor damage to millet and sorghum. Cote d'Ivoire: Total grain output in the Cote d'Ivoire for 1997/98 is forecast at 1.14 million tons, down slightly from 1.16 million in 1996/97. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 1.51 million hectares, virtually unchanged from the previous year. The main crops produced, corn and rice, are forecast at 0.64 million and 0.40 million tons, respectively. Weather has been generally satisfactory except for below normal rainfall in late-June. The corn crop is estimated higher than last season due to expansion of area and favorable rains. Production potential is being stifled by a lack of efficient storage facilities, caused by relatively large stocks and low market prices. Rice production is down from the previous year as lower producer prices caused a reduction in planted area. Gambia: In Gambia, total grain production for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.83 million tons, down 0.20 million from last season. Millet is the principal crop grown with output forecast at 0.05 million tons. A long dry spell negatively affected crops and delayed rice transplanting. The Government declared a partial crop failure, but near-normal rainfall in late-August and early-September stabilized yield prospects. However, corn production is forecast much lower as a result of the dryness. Pest damage also has been reported in some regions. Ghana: In Ghana, total grain output is forecast at 1.36 million tons in 1997/98, down from 1.67 million in 1996/97. Area harvested is forecast at 1.25 million hectares, down from 1.33 million last season. Corn and sorghum are the main crops with output forecast at 0.70 million and 0.35 million tons, respectively. Rainfall began early in March and remained favorable until June, when it decreased significantly. However, in early-July rainfall was again above-average allowing the corn crop to recover. Guinea: Total grain output in Guinea for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.64 million tons, the same as in 1996/97. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 0.70 million, up marginally from last year. Rice and millet are the primary crops grown, producing 0.45 million and 0.10 million tons, respectively. Rains began in late-March in the extreme southeast, increased throughout the South in April, became abundant in May, and continued throughout the growing season. Crop prospects are generally favorable. Guinea-Bissau: In Guinea-Bissau for 1997/98, total grain output is forecast at 0.15 million tons, down slightly from the previous year. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 0.14 million hectares, up slightly from 1996/97. Rice is the principal grain crop, with output forecast at 0.08 million tons. Favorable rainfall in June allowed the planting of coarse grains in the East and North as well as allowing an early start to land preparation in swamp areas. Due to dry conditions in July, transplanting of rice from seedbeds to swamp areas was delayed, but rainfall increased in August allowing transplanting to continue. Abundant rainfall in late-August and early- September benefited rice and coarse grain development. Liberia: Liberian total grain production for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.60 million tons, unchanged from 1996/97. Rice is the main crop grown in Liberia with output forecast at 0.06 million tons. Rainfall started late this season, beginning in the later part of February, becoming widespread over the entire country in late-March, and remaining plentiful from April through June. The rains decreased in July and August, but resumed normally in early September. No climatic constraints or pests have been reported, and relative political stability has encouraged farming once again in the country. Mali: In Mali, total grain production for 1997/98 is forecast at 2.25 million tons, up from 1.88 million in 1996/97 due to generally favorable rainfall. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 2.97 million hectares, up almost 0.20 million from last season. The main grain crop produced is millet with production for 1997/98 forecast at 1.50 million tons. In the rain-fed agricultural zone of the Mopti Region and the northern parts of Kayes, Koulikoro, and Segou Regions, sowing started early in response to rains in June. In July, dry weather caused farmers to replant; however, planted area in Kayes and Mopti regions is higher than last year. There were reports of pest infestations in different areas, but control operation teams have reportedly dealt with the problem. Mauritania: In Mauritania, total grain output for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.15 million tons, down from 0.20 million in 1996/97. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 0.22 million hectares, down slightly from the previous year. Sorghum, the principal grain crop, is forecast lower this season at 0.10 million tons due to dryness that extended to July. Adequate rains in late- August and early-September stabilized prospects for production below reservoirs and in low lying areas. Replanting was limited due to seed availability. Abundant rains in late-August early-September replenished reservoirs, improving prospects for irrigated rice. Niger: In Niger, total grain production for 1997/98 is forecast at 2.32 million tons, up slightly from 2.30 million in 1996/97. Area harvested is forecast at 6.23 million hectares in 1997/98 compared to 6.33 million in 1996/97. Millet is the major grain crop in Niger with production for 1997/98 estimated at 1.85 million tons. A late start of rain in agricultural areas of Niger and dryness in July led to significant crop development variations. Rains from August through October were well distributed. Millet has been harvested and has appeared in the markets in some areas. Nigeria: Nigerian total grain production for 1997/98 is forecast at 18.89 million tons, virtually unchanged from 1996/97. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 17.14 million hectares, down slightly from last year. Sorghum, corn, millet, and rice are the main crops produced with output forecast at 7.00 million, 5.00 million, 5.00 million, and 1.85 million tons, respectively. Abundant, widespread rains began in southern Nigeria in mid March and continued throughout the growing season. Corn production, forecast at 5.0 million tons, is unchanged from last season's reduced level as producers switched from corn to sorghum due to continued fertilizer availability shortages. Senegal: Total grain production in Senegal for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.83 million tons, down from 0.92 million produced in 1996/97. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 1.23 million hectares, down slightly from last season. Millet and sorghum are the principal grain crops with production forecast at 0.55 million and 0.11 million tons, respectively. Crops were negatively affected by dry weather in mid-July, and prospects are unfavorable, although Senegal had near-normal rainfall in late-August through early-September. In the North and Central North, crops that had not failed benefitted from these rains. Rice production, estimated at 0.9 million tons for 1997/98, has steadily declined over the years and this trend is forecast to continue this season due to scarcity of high quality seeds, inadequate input usage, increasing production costs, reduced availability of credit, and lower producer prices. Sierra Leone: Total grain production in Sierra Leone for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.23 million tons, down slightly from 1996/97. Rice is the main crop grown with production for 1997/98 forecast at 0.20 million tons. Agricultural activities have been severely hampered due to political unrest in the country. Rainfall was sparse in March and April, but near-normal rainfall followed. Planted area, yield, and production are reduced as some farmers abandoned their farms, while others are reluctant to cultivate large areas due to the political instability. Togo: In Togo, total grain production for 1997/98 is forecast at 0.66 million tons, compared to 0.60 million in 1996/97. Area harvested in 1997/98 is forecast at 0.73 million hectares, down from 0.76 million hectares in 1996/97. Corn and millet, the main crops grown, are forecast at 0.45 million and 0.18 million tons, respectively. Grain output is projected to be above average due to generally favorable rainfall throughout the growing season. Theresa Wright, Regional Analyst Phone: (202) 720-8887 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org MEXICO GRAIN TRIP REPORT AND CROP ASSESSMENT A Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) regional analyst traveled to Mexico in early October to meet with Government of Mexico officials and to assess crop conditions and production outlook for corn and sorghum. Meetings took place with officials from the Livestock and Rural Development Office (SAGAR), Secretariat of Agriculture, in Mexico City prior to traveling into the central plains region of Mexico known as the "Bajio" (meaning lowlands). The Bajio, also referred to as the Mexican Cornbelt, is an area west of Mexico City situated between the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain ranges. This area includes western Guanajuato, northern Michoacan, and eastern Jalisco. The FAS analyst traveled as a member of a crop team that visited with farmers, cooperatives, millers, trade representatives, and regional SAGAR officials during 4 days of field travel. Bajio: Mexico is able to grow grain and oilseed crops year-round, the bulk being spring and summer production. The common mode of farming in the Bajio is the "ejido" system, where government-owned land is inhabited and worked by peasant families in a communal arrangement. There are also larger, independently owed farms which sometimes operate in a manner similar to the ejido system as well as corporate-owned farms. The Bajio contributes nearly 70 percent of Mexico's spring/summer sorghum crop (planted in late April/May and harvested in October/November), over 25 percent of the spring/summer corn production (planted in May and harvested in November/December), and therefore is an economically and politically important region. Historically, market price has determined how much sorghum was planted vrsus corn. Corn has usually been the grain of choice because of programs put in place by the Government of Mexico to assure that corn was plentiful and inexpensive. White corn is the mainstay of the Mexican population's diet, with corn tortillas and/or beans served at every meal. Sorghum is the feedgrain of choice in Mexico with most of it consumed by the swine and poultry industries. One-half of the country's sorghum production is consumed in the Bajio. Opinions varied greatly among the Bajio respondents as to what harvest totals will ultimately be received from the summer portion of 1997/98 crop, however everyone foresaw below-normal output due to drought, and lower production than the official SAGAR forecast. Nearly two-thirds of the corn and sorghum fields in Bajio are rain-fed. Crops suffered from moisture deficiency this summer, resulting from a year-long trend of below-normal precipitation and occasional high temperatures. Late- season tropical storms eased the moisture stress; however, precipitation arrived too late for most Bajio corn yields to recover. Sorghum benefitted from these late rains since it is a more drought-resistant crop whose main- harvest period begins in November, about a month after corn. Areas of the States of Jalisco and Michoacan that are closest to the Pacific coast received higher rainfall totals this summer than other areas of those states, and their yields subsequently should be higher than the interior areas. Reservoirs in the region entered the season at less than half their normal levels and continued to fall reflecting the absence of precipitation. Farmers reported receiving about two allocations of water at planting and germination time from the local agencies under the authority of the National Water Commission, but no water since then. In Mexico, all water is owned by the Federal Government, and the delivery of scheduled allocations will vary with weather and agricultural policy. The dominant point of discussion in the Bajio, beyond the drought, was the announcement of a new sorghum price support program for the State of Guanajuato. This announcement occurred at the time of the team's crop travel. The Guanajuato plan, effective October 1, 1997, covering a 5-month period, is an attempt to control price volatility by establishing a range within which all parties would agree to do business. The farmers and traders felt the plan would have limited success, questioning why anyone would agree to cap their potential profit. Furthermore, Guanajuato has no real mechanism to ensure compliance among the participants. None of the farmers and few of the storage site operators acknowledged signing on to the Guanajuato plan. Mexico has been moving in the direction of an open marketplace since signing the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Federal Government has become increasingly selective about instituting price-support programs that previously were the norm. Queretaro: The State of Queretaro normally accounts for a tiny portion of Mexico's annual corn and sorghum output. This summer's contribution (normally less than 1 percent of national corn output and all of Queretaro's sorghum output) will be less than normal, based on field observations. The fields between San Juan del Rio and the capital city of Queretaro were the most stressed fields encountered during the trip. Plants were stunted, leaves were withered, and the soil was sometimes powdery dry. During the summer months of the 1990's, more than 70 percent of Queretaro's summer-crop corn and 90 percent of it's sorghum was grown under irrigation. The largest reservoir in the area, Constitucion de 1917, was at 53 percent of capacity in 1995 and 36 percent in early October of 1996. Volume did not climb above 5 percent of capacity between May and September 1997. By the end of September 1997, SAGAR's corn production estimate for Queretaro had already fallen to 77,500 tons and sorghum output to 41,400 tons. Other sources within the state felt those figures were optimistic. Guanajuato: Plant vigor in southern Guanajuato was observed to be better than in Queretaro, but dryness had cut anticipated yields. The summer-corn and sorghum crops normally represent 6 percent and 43 percent, respectively, of Mexico's annual output. More than 60 percent of Guanajuato's summer-corn and 80 percent of it's sorghum crops are grown under irrigation. The Solis Reservoir usually provides sufficient water to farmers around Celaya (southeast Guanajuato) to plant in the spring, but normal crop development was hampered by the absence of precipitation. A Celaya grain storage operator reported that the soil moisture was even lower in northern Quanajuato. Forty miles west of Celaya the team observed late-planted sorghum fields that were in relatively good condition. The trend toward better plant development continued as the team drove west to Irapuato, then southwest toward La Piedad De Cabadas, although corn fields continued to exhibit stress. Jalisco: Corn and sorghum fields near Jetraham de Jamay in northeast Jalisco looked very healthy, but farmers insisted that yields across the state were reduced by drought. The summer-corn and sorghum crops normally account for 17 and 11 percent of Mexico's annual output, respectively. A farmers' association estimated Jalisco's 1996/97 corn production at 2.4 million tons, and projected the 1997/98 output at less than 1.5 million tons. Less than 8 percent of Jalisco's summer-corn and less than 16 percent of it's sorghum is grown on irrigated fields. The farmers association reported that 20 percent of dryland corn would have normal yields, 50 percent would have drought damage, and 30 percent would be lost. The association was concerned about sorghum ergot as recently as two months ago, but had found the impact of ergot to be minimal. Some farmers were already harvesting immature sorghum to prevent lodging caused by excessive winds caused by Hurricane Pauline, but some fields appeared as though they would not be ready for harvesting until late November. Michoacan: In Michoacan, crops conditions were similar to those of Jalisco State. However, government officials indicated as much as 150,000 hectares of the state's planted area was affected by drought. The Michoacan summer-corn and sorghum crops normally account for 7 and 15 percent of Mexico"s annual output, respectively. Irrigated area accounts for about 25 percent of the Michoacan's corn production, while 50 percent or more of the state's sorghum is irrigated. Government officials indicated sorghum output may reach 700,000 tons from 150,000 hectares, which reportedly would be an improvement of 275,000 tons over the 1996 season. TABLE 22 MEXICO CORN PRODUCTION Area Yield Production (000 hectares) (tons/hectare) (000 tons) 1990/91 6,600 2.14 14,100 1991/92 6,995 2.10 14,689 1992/93 7,536 2.47 18,631 1993/94 8,557 2.24 19,141 1994/95 8,022 2.12 17,005 1995/96 7,800 2.28 17,780 1996/97 8,200 2.38 19,500 1997/98 8,500 2.24 19,000 TABLE 23 MEXICO SORGHUM PRODUCTION Area Yield Production (000 hectares) (tons/hectare) (000 tons) 1990/91 1,300 2.85 3,700 1991/92 1,459 3.02 4,403 1992/93 1,030 3.00 3,088 1993/94 1,032 2.92 3,018 1994/95 1,000 3.00 3,000 1995/96 1,733 3.21 5,568 1996/97 1,800 3.44 6,200 1997/98 1,800 3.33 6,000 Ron White, Regional Analyst Phone: (202) 690-0137 E-mail: email@example.com[images/footer.html]