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-334) January 13, 1998.
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 February 12, 1998.
During November 1997, above-normal precipitation fell in eastern Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, while below-normal rainfall in Hungary continued to limit moisture for winter grain development. During the first week of December 1997, seasonable temperatures and light precipitation favored dormant winter grains in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Farther south, unseasonably mild weather accompanied widespread precipitation in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, allowing further establishment in late-planted winter grains.
During December 14 - 20, bitterly cold weather from the former Soviet Union pushed westward into Europe, threatening winter grains. Extreme minimum temperatures ranged from -15 to -19 degrees Celsius in most of Poland and a small area in southeastern Romania, and Bulgaria. Temperatures below -19 degrees were restricted to extreme eastern Poland and a small area in southeastern Romania and northern Bulgaria. While temperatures in these areas approached the threshold for potential winter kill, extreme cold was of short duration and was preceded by snow, minimizing the threat for widespread damage. Elsewhere, extreme minimum temperatures in eastern Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, western Romania, and Yugoslavia ranged from -6 to -15 degrees , remaining above the threshold for damage. During December 21 - 27, a strong westerly flow of maritime air spread eastward across Europe, and brought warmer weather and widespread precipitation. The mild weather in eastern Europe improved overwintering conditions for winter grains following the prior week's bitter cold. By the end of the week most winter grain areas in eastern Europe lacked protective snow cover. During the last days of December and the first week of January 1998, warm maritime air continued to spread across Europe. In eastern Europe, unseasonably mild weather was accompanied by generally light precipitation. The greatest amounts of precipitation fell as rain in southeastern Hungary, northwestern Yugoslavia, and western Romania, boosting soil moisture. Weekly temperatures in eastern Europe ranged from 4 to 7 degrees above normal. Winter grain areas over most of Europe lacked protective snow cover.
Frigid Siberian Arctic air brought a severe chill to winter grain areas of Ukraine, Russia, the Baltics, and Belarus during December 15 - 18, 1997 according to meteorologists at NOAA/USDA Joint Agricultural Weather Facility. Temperatures as low as -33 degrees Celsius were observed in eastern Ukraine and central Russia near Moscow, with minimum temperatures generally ranging from -17 to -30 degrees through the period. An adequate layer of snow cover protected winter grains from the Baltics eastward through most of northern Russia as well as the northern half of Ukraine. Snow cover in the key winter wheat producing areas in the southern half of Ukraine and southern Russia (southern and central North Caucasus region, and lower Volga Valley) was thin or patchy, leaving crops vulnerable to potential damage. Temperatures moderated quickly beginning on December 19, improving overwintering conditions. While winter grains have likely sustained some damage in these vulnerable areas, the full extent of the damage will not be apparent until crops begin breaking dormancy in the spring.
In November 1997, winter grain planting was well underway across northwestern Africa. Well-above-normal precipitation fell in northern Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, providing abundant planting moisture. Below-normal precipitation prevailed in southern Morocco. During the first week of December 1997, light-to-moderate showers fell over Morocco, providing sufficient moisture for winter grain planting. Farther east, although widespread showers continued to provide abundant moisture for emerging winter grains, the wet weather may have caused some interruptions in planting. During December 7 - 13, light showers fell in Algeria and Tunisia, maintaining favorable moisture conditions for winter grain emergence and establishment. The following week, significant rain fell across Morocco, providing moisture for winter grain development.
Drier weather across Algeria and Tunisia allowed for late-season planting to progress at a rapid pace. Rainfall during the last two weeks of December and the first week of January has maintained favorable moisture across the region for winter grain development. Even southern Morocco has benefitted from timely rainfall.
During November and most of December 1997, rainfall was near to below normal in the western corn belt and near to above normal in the east. Temperatures have averaged near normal to below normal even in the driest areas. As a result, corn prospects were generally favorable in the east but guarded for the west. During December 21 - 27, moderate showers continued in eastern growing areas, while light showers helped to ease prolonged dryness in the west. However, periodic hot weather maintained high evaporation rates, reducing the beneficial effects of the moisture on crop development. From December 28 through January 3, widespread, soaking rain covered the corn belt. Rainfall totaled 25 to 50 millimeters or more in most areas, with many drought-stricken sections of the west and south receiving more than 100 millimeters. The moisture was extremely beneficial for vegetative corn, and the magnitude of the event may spur some late planting. However, corn planted this late in the season traditionally experiences lower yields, caused mainly by stress from summer heat and dryness.
Planting in Indonesia's major rice-producing areas began almost immediately following the onset of the rainy season in mid-November and will continue through January. The rains normally begin in late September or early October, but started throughout much of the Indonesian archipelago during the second half of November and first part of December. The late start to the planting season means the main-harvest period will be pushed back to April/May from the normal harvest period of February/March. This year's rainy season is still relatively weak, and Indonesia's 1997/98 rice production estimate is lowered this month to an estimated 32.0 million tons (milled basis), down 1.3 million from December. Area is revised lower reflecting a downward revision in 1996/97 harvested area, and yield is estimated at 4.36 tons per hectare, down slightly from last month and 1996/97. Production is estimated 0.5 million tons higher than in 1996/97, but down 4 percent from a record 33.2 million tons produced in 1995/96.
Argentina's 1997/98 corn production estimate was raised to 15.0 million tons, up 2.0 million from the December estimate, but down 3 percent from last year's record crop. The month-to-month increase resulted mostly from reports of higher corn area and increased yield potential. Yield is forecast at a record 4.69 tons per hectare due to beneficial weather in central Argentina. Satellite imagery analysis by the Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division of USDA/FAS indicates yield potential to be as least as high as last year's record yield of 4.56 tons per hectare. A comparison of late December vegetation indices from 1997 and 1996 indicates the main corn-growing areas of northern Buenos Aires Province are very similar to last year and the marginal corn-growing areas--southern Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, and Cordoba Provinces--are doing better than last year.
Brazil's 1997/98 soybean production estimate was raised to a record 30.0 million tons, up 1.0 million tons from December and up 11 percent from last year's record crop. The month-to-month increase resulted mostly from reports of higher soybean area and above average growing conditions. Yield is forecast at a record 2.33 tons per hectare due to beneficial weather in all the main soybean-growing regions. Rainfall was above normal for December in the states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, the two largest soybean producers. Elsewhere, rainfall has been normal. Scattered rainfall in Mato Grosso do Sul, which produces 8 percent of the total crop, might be of concern.
Nationally, harvested area is forecast at 12.9 million hectares, up 0.1 million from last month and up 1.1 million or 9 percent from last year's record area. Strong world demand, high international prices, and increasing sales of fertilizers, seeds, herbicides, and machinery indicated higher soybean area.
China's State Statistical Bureau (SSB) recently announced its preliminary estimates for total grain, cotton, and total oilseed output in 1997/98. Total grain production is estimated at 492.5 million tons, down 12 million from last year's record crop and China's second-largest output. (China includes wheat, rough rice, corn, other grains, tubers, and soybeans in its total grain estimate). The excellent harvest was achieved despite a serious summer drought in northern China and excessive rainfall in parts of the south. Record crops of wheat and rice partially offset a large decline in corn production.
The preliminary cotton production estimate is 19.75 million bales (4.3 million tons). The SSB reported area was lower than last year, but record yields pushed production above the 1996/97 output of 19.3 million bales. Total oilseed output dropped by an estimated 1.0 million tons from 1996/97 to 21.0 million this year. The reduction was due to a large decline in the peanut crop, which was severely impacted by drought last summer.
China's 1997/98 wheat production is raised this month to an estimated 124.0 million tons, up 3.0 million or 2 percent from last month and up 12 percent from last year's record crop. Farmers expanded wheat area by an estimated 0.4 million hectares to 30.0 million. Ideal conditions at planting and excellent spring weather led to a record winter wheat crop. Spring wheat, grown primarily north of the Great Wall, also benefitted from favorable weather this year. The estimate for China's 1997/98 rice crop is a record 138.5 million tons (milled basis), up 1.5 million or 1 percent from last month and 1 percent from last year. Generally favorable summer and autumn weather, the increased use of high-yielding hybrid varieties, and improved management techniques helped China achieve a record rice yield in 1997.
China's 1997/98 cotton production is estimated at 19.5 million bales (4.25 million tons), up 1.0 million bales or 5 percent from last month and up slightly from last year's crop of 19.3 million. The revision is based on higher estimated yields in several key cotton-producing provinces, particularly Henan Province on the North China Plain. Lower planted area was offset by higher yields, which were increased by 6 percent to a record high 943 kilograms per hectare.
Generally favorable late-summer and autumn weather led to high yields in Hunan, Hubei, and adjacent provinces. High yields also were reported in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, where about 25 percent of China's cotton is grown. Other factors that contributed to China's output in 1997/98 include fewer insect problems than in previous years, the expanded use of hybrid varieties, and improved irrigation facilities. For several years, cotton area has been declining in the low-yielding provinces of northern China but steadily increasing in the Northwest, where growing conditions for cotton are more favorable and yield potentials are higher.
Soybean production in 1997/98 is estimated at 13.8 million tons, up 0.3 million or 2 percent from last month due to higher estimated yield. The U.S. agricultural counselor's office in Beijing reports that losses due to last summer's drought in northern China were apparently not as serious as previously anticipated. Production is projected to be good in the Northeast province of Heilongjiang, where about 30 percent of China's total soybean crop is grown. The estimated yield of 1.68 tons per hectare is lower than last year but close to the 5-year average.
South Africa's 1997/98 corn crop is estimated at 8.0 million tons, down 0.5 million from last month and down 1.0 million from last year. Planted area in the commercial sector is estimated at 3.0 million hectares, down 0.2 million from last month and 0.4 from a year ago. Farmers reportedly reduced area in response to dry planting conditions and in anticipation of possible drought brought on by El Nino. Estimated yield of 2.66 tons per hectare is below the 5-year average and similar to last year's yield.
The U.S. agricultural counselor's office in Pretoria reported that farmers may have cut corn area by almost 11 percent in commercial areas. Dryness in November and December caused planting delays in the North West Province, and fears of El Nino-related drought in 1998 caused farmers in other areas to reduce corn area or shift to drought-tolerant crops. Planting continued into January in the western and northwestern Maize Triangle, where heavy rainfall since late-December improved moisture conditions.
To date, the effect of El Nino on South Africa's weather has not been severe. Rainfall was below normal in November and early December in most areas of the country, but heavy, widespread rain later in December has improved crop prospects. Cooler temperatures also have reduced the stress on summer crops.
A split jet stream, induced by El Nino, allowed farmers to finish fall crop harvest and tillage operations under mostly dry conditions across the northern United States. However, the weather pattern caused continued wetness during December across the Southern States and delayed harvest and fall planting activities. At the end of the month, soil moisture supplies in the major corn and soybean-producing States were mostly adequate. There was concern about the lack of snow cover on winter grains and alfalfa fields. Grain movement in the Corn Belt was slowed by low prices. Some elevators in Nebraska continued to pile grain outside in emergency storage. Above-normal temperatures in the northern Plains benefitted livestock producers after the especially harsh winter last year. Farmers in the northern and Middle Atlantic States were able to finish fall harvest, but hay supplies were short in several areas.
Continued rainfall and below-normal temperatures from California to Florida delayed fall crop harvest, and a few fields remained unharvested at month's end. However, the majority of the soybean, cotton, and sorghum areas were harvested by the end of December. Snow in southeast Colorado further hindered sorghum harvest that was initially delayed by a late October blizzard. A small amount of Kansas sorghum acreage was not yet harvested at the end of December due to above-normal precipitation. Tobacco curing in Kentucky and Ohio was hampered by slow drying conditions later in the month. Record wetness in Florida hampered citrus and vegetable harvests.
The very mild weather across the northern United States promoted growth and development of the 1998 winter wheat crop but also melted snow cover on emerged fields. In Kansas, the crop was rated in mostly good to excellent condition at the end of December with little wind and freeze damage occurring during the month. Statewide, snowfall and rain combined with moderate temperatures resulted in on again/off again snow cover. To the north of Kansas, dry weather during the last 3 months in the High Plains has left fields with no snow cover and subject to damage by wind and freezing temperatures. In the Northwest, snow cover was absent in eastern Washington, while good snow cover in northern Idaho and mild conditions in the southern part of the State benefitted winter wheat. Mild temperatures accompanied by snow and rain benefitted fields in the southern Plains. In the Southeast, planting and crop growth were delayed by late fall crop harvests and above-normal precipitation.
In December, above-normal precipitation fell in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania, increasing moisture reserves. During the period of December 15 -18, temperatures fell sharply in most areas, threatening winter grains. Lowest temperatures during the period ranged from -17 degrees Celsius to less than -30 degrees , exceeding the threshold for potential winter kill. Temperatures as low as -33 degrees were observed in eastern Ukraine and central Russia near Moscow. An adequate snow cover protected winter grains from the Baltics eastward through most of northern Russia as well as the northern half of Ukraine. However, snow cover in key winter wheat producing areas in the southern half of Ukraine and southern Russia (southern and central North Caucasus region, and lower Volga Valley) was thin or patchy, and the wheat crop likely sustained some damage in these vulnerable areas. However, the full extent of the damage will not be apparent until crops begin breaking dormancy in the spring. Beginning on December 19, temperatures moderated quickly and rose above-normal by month's end, improving overwintering conditions. Since early January, unseasonably mild weather prevailed over most winter grain areas and was accompanied by widespread precipitation. While the mild weather favored dormant winter grains, it further diminished protective snow cover in Ukraine and southern Russia, leaving winter wheat exposed to extremes in the weather.
Tom Puterbaugh 720-2012 (January 1998)
World total grain production of wheat, coarse grain, and milled rice for 1997/98 is forecast at a record 1,881 million tons, up 12 million from 1996/97 and 112 million higher than 1990/91. World wheat, barley, and rice production for 1997/98 are higher than last season, while corn and oats output are lower.
Wheat: World wheat production for 1997/98 is estimated at a record 608.2 million tons, up 25.7 million from last season, and up 3 percent from 1990/91. Area for 1997/98 is estimated at 229.3 million hectares, a decline of 1.7 million from last year and 1 percent below the 1990/91 level. World wheat yield is at a record 2.65 tons per hectare, due mainly to higher yield in China, India, and the United States.
In the United States, production has declined from 74.3 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 68.8 million in 1997/98. The decline over the period is due to reduced area. Despite extremely cold April temperatures for the 1997/98 winter wheat crop in the Southern Great Plains, the crop rebounded to produce record yields. In other parts of the United States and for the spring wheat crop, generally favorable weather boosted the total wheat yield to a record 2.67 tons per hectare. In the EU-15, production dropped from 1996/97's record 98.6 million tons crop to the current estimate of 95.4 million for 1997/98. Area in 1997/98 is estimated at 17.1 million hectares, only 0.3 million below 1990/91. In Canada, production declined from the record 32.1 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 24.3 million in 1997/98. Farmers responded to market signals by decreasing wheat area and increasing area for canola, flaxseed, and specialty crops. Below average yields were achieved during 1997/98 due to dry mid-July weather. For China, production has increased from 98.2 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated record 124.0 million in 1997/98. A record yield of 4.13 tons per hectare was produced due to ideal weather for winter wheat and generally favorable weather for the smaller spring wheat crop. Also, area increased slightly from last year to 30.0 million hectares. In the former Soviet Union (FSU-12), production has dropped dramatically from the high of 100.3 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 79.3 million in 1997/98. However, wheat production in Russia has climbed from a low of 30.1 million tons in 1995/96 to an estimated 44.0 million in 1997/98, near the 49.6 million tons produced in 1990/91. Despite a shift of nearly 1.0 million hectares, from 1996/97 to 1997/98 in the higher yielding winter wheat crop to spring wheat, yields increased to 1.71 tons per hectare -- due mainly to favorable weather. In Kazakhstan, production declined from 16.2 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 8.7 million this season. Area has been declining for several years as marginal land continues to be idled. In addition, poor weather and continued economic difficulties have cut yields during the past 4 years. In Argentina, production increased from 10.9 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 13.2 million in 1997/98. The increase can be attributed to a larger area harvested and a yield that has generally been rising due to increased inputs. Production is down 2.7 million tons from the 1996/97 record of 15.9 million due to a decrease in area. In Australia, production has increased from 15.1 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 19.0 million in 1997/98, but is down 5.6 million from the 1996/97 record level of 23.6 million. During the 1990's, varied weather caused sharp fluctuations in area and output.
Corn: World corn production for 1997/98 is estimated at 576.0 million tons, down 16.4 million from last year's record, but up 19 percent from 1990/91. Output has been trending higher in recent years due to increases in both area and yield. World corn area is estimated at 140.6 million hectares, down 1 percent from last year, but up 9 percent from 1990/91.
In the United States, corn output is estimated at 237.9 million tons, up 0.8 million tons from 1996/97 due to a slight increase in area to 29.8 million hectares. Yield is virtually unchanged from last season at 7.97 tons per hectare. In 1990/91, production totaled 201.5 million tons, increased to a record 256.6 million in 1994/95, only to decline in 1995/96 to an estimated 187.3 million. In the EU-15, production rose from 23.5 million tons in 1990/91 to an record 37.9 million in 1997/98. Since 1994/95, yields have risen steadily to a record 8.78 tons per hectare this year. In France, ideal weather has produced an estimated record crop of 16.5 million tons, with a record yield of 9.09 tons per hectare. In China, corn production has increased steadily (with the exception of this year) from 78.9 million tons in 1990/91 to a record 127.5 million in 1996/97. This year's corn crop is estimated at 105.0 million tons, down from the 1996/97 record crop due to a severe drought in the North China Plain. The estimated area for 1997/98 is down about 1.0 million hectares from last year to 23.5 million as producers shifted into more profitable soybeans. However, in general, demand for corn has resulted in an expansion in area from previous years, while yield has benefitted from the adoption of new technologies. In South Africa, production typically reflects the extreme variability in rainfall and temperature. Although production in 1990/91 was 8.3 million tons and is forecast at a near-average level of 8.0 million for 1997/98, corn output over the past five years ranged from a high of 13.3 million tons to a low of 4.8 million. The corn crop can be planted into mid-January and this season planting conditions have been favorable in the east, but mixed to less-than-desirable in the west. Recent, timely rainfall throughout most of the Maize Triangle was beneficial to the crop. In Argentina, production in 1990/91 was 7.6 million tons, but is forecast at a near-record 15.0 million for 1997/98. Stronger prices are responsible for a general increase in area, while yield has been rising steadily due to greater use of fertilizers and high quality seed. For the 1997/98 season, yield is forecast at a record 4.69 tons per hectare due to excellent weather and greater use of agronomic resources. The crop is tasseling in January.
Rice (milled basis): World rice production for 1997/98 is estimated at a record 382.8 million tons, up 1.1 million from 1996/97 and up 9 percent from 1990/91. Increasing yield and area since the early 1990's boosted production. Harvested area for 1997/98 is estimated at 148.5 million hectares, down marginally from 1996/97, but up 1 percent from 1990/91.
In the United States, production increased from 5.1 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 5.8 million in 1997/98 due to an expansion in area and improved yield. An increase in the estimated harvested area, versus last year, more than offset a decrease in yield. Yield fell in 1997/98 to 6.61 tons per hectare, off 4 percent from last year's record of 6.86 tons. In China, 1997/98 production is estimated at a record 138.5 million tons, up 1 percent from the previous year and up from 132.5 million in 1990/91. A record yield of 6.30 tons per hectare with virtually no change in area over last season resulted in the record crop. Excellent weather and continued improvement in technologies helped the rice crop reach this level. In India, production expanded from 74.3 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated record 81.5 million for 1997/98. The rise in output is due mainly to higher yield resulting from an increase in irrigated areas and adoption of new technologies. Yield climbed again this season, while area is down about 0.5 million hectares to 42.2 million. In Indonesia, a strive toward self-sufficiency has expanded area and yield slightly, thereby increasing production from 29.3 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 32.0 million in 1997/98. Dry weather during October and November delayed planting by a month and a half. However, December rainfall has eased the dryness. In Thailand, 11.3 million tons of rice were produced in 1990/91 compared to a forecast 14.0 million in 1997/98.
Increased area and higher yield, especially in the second-season crop, increased output over this period. In Vietnam, production has steadily increased from 12.4 million tons in 1990/91 to 18.0 million estimated this season, nearly equal to last season's record level. Both area and yield trend higher as the Government continues to emphasize rice production.
Barley: World barley production for 1997/98 is estimated at 156.5 million tons, up 1.8 million from last season, but down 12 percent from the record 178.1 million produced in 1990/91. Although harvested area fell to 66.0 million hectares this season, an increase in yield raised world barley output. Yield is estimated at 2.37 tons per hectare, the highest level since the record 2.46 tons in 1990/91.
In the United States, barley output slipped from 9.2 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 8.2 million in 1997/98. Most of the reduction is due to lower area, estimated at 2.6 million hectares this season, slightly above the 1995/96 area, which was the smallest harvested since 1903. In the FSU-12, barley output has fallen from 50.0 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 35.5 million in 1997/98. In general, area has been relatively stable for the region. Harvested area is estimated at 21.0 million hectares, virtually unchanged from last year as a decrease in area for Kazakhstan is equally offset by an increase for Russia. Yield is estimated at 1.67 tons per hectare, up nearly 30 percent from last season's drought reduced crop. In Russia, production declined from 27.2 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 22.0 million in 1997/98. This year's output is up 38 percent from 1996/97 due to generally favorable weather. In Kazakhstan, production dropped from 8.5 million to 2.6 million during the 1990/91 to 1997/98 period. Production is similar to the 1996/97 season as a decrease in area is offset by an increase in yield. In Canada, production in 1990/91 totaled 13.4 million tons versus an estimated 13.7 million in 1997/98. An increase in area more than offset a slight decrease in yield over the 7-year time period. Hot, dry weather during the flowering stage in July caused yield to decline to 2.90 tons per hectare, down 9 percent from last season's record level of 3.18 tons. In the EU-15, production in 1990/91 was 56.2 million tons compared to 52.6 million estimated for 1997/98. With the reduction in set-aside area and stronger prices over the past two years, area has increased to 11.9 million hectares in 1997/98 ending 7 consecutive years of decline prior to 1996/97. Yield is slightly below last season's record of 4.55 tons per hectare at 4.43 tons, due mainly to excellent weather in Germany. In Australia, production has increased from 4.2 million tons in 1990/91 to an estimated 5.5 million for 1997/98. With the exception of the 1994/95 drought, area has been trending higher due to strong prices. This year's crop was negatively affected by drought early in the growing season.
Oats: World oat production for 1997/98 is estimated at 30.6 million tons, down marginally from last year and down 22 percent from 1990/91. Oat area continues to fall. Harvested area is estimated at 17.0 million hectares, the lowest level on record. Despite higher yield this season, falling area pressured production downward.
In the United States, production was 5.2 million tons in 1990/91. Output for 1997/98 is estimated at 2.6 million tons as farmers reaped one of the smallest area on record at 1.2 million hectares. Production for 1997/98 is projected higher than last year due to increased area from 1996/97 and the third highest yield at 2.17 tons per hectare -- surpassed by the record of 2.35 tons set in 1992/93. In the FSU-12, oat production was 15.1 million tons in 1990/91 versus an estimated 11.1 million in 1997/98 due mainly to decreasing area. Area has declined steadily from 10.4 million hectares to 7.7 million in the 7 years from 1990/91 - 1997/98. Russia, the FSU's primary producer of oats, produced 9.0 million tons in 1997/98, down from 12.3 million in 1990/91.
Generally favorable weather throughout the growing season supported an 8 percent upturn in output despite a reduction in area. In the EU-15, oat production in 1990/91 was 8.0 million tons compared to the 6.6 million estimated for 1997/98. A reduction in area due to agricultural policy reform is the primary reason for the decrease in output. Production for 1997/98 is down 3 percent from last year as yield is slightly below the 1996/97 record level of 3.53 tons per hectare. In Canada, 1990/91 oat production was 2.7 million tons, lower than the 3.5 million estimated this season.
Relatively favorable prices over the last several years has led to area increases from 1.2 million hectares in 1990/91 to 11.5 million in 1997/98. Yield this season (estimated at 2.32 tons per hectare) is below the 5-year average of 2.48 tons due to untimely dry weather across the Prairie Provinces in July.
Timothy Rocke, Chairperson (202) 720-1572
Mark Lindeman, FSU, (202) 690-0143
Jim Crutchfield, Asia, Australia, (202) 690-0135
Paulette Sandene, China, South Africa (202) 690-0133
Robert Tetrault, Brazil/Argentina, (202) 690-0140
Paul Provance, Europe, Southeast Asia, (202)720-0882
Ron White, Mexico, (202) 690-0137
Brenda Pressnall, North Africa, (202) 690-0139
Although El Ni¤o has affected regional crop production in some countries, world total grain production of wheat, coarse grain, and milled rice for 1997/98 is forecast at a record. World rice and wheat production are at record levels, while production of coarse grains is down 2 percent. While regional grain shortages exist due to El Ni¤o, El Ni¤o has not yet caused significant downward pressure on world grain production.
The development of the current El Ni¤o has been closely followed since it began in spring 1997, as scientists, farmers, and policy makers tried to understand its behavior and devise strategies to cope with its potential impact on global agriculture and food supply. Early warnings of El Ni¤o allowed government officials to take pre-emptive actions, such as setting up disaster assistance for farmers, putting aside funds for future relief expenses, issuing drought insurance, building up strategic food stocks, making changes to tax and food import policies, and encouraging shifts in planting patterns.
Late-arriving rains in Indonesia and dryness in Southeast Asia Below-normal early-season rainfall in southern Africa Dry summer in Central America Warm winter weather in Canadian Prairies and northern United States Above-normal rainfall in southern California and southern United States
What do these 1997 weather events have in common? Scientists believe they all have some correlation to the current El Ni¤o. The term describes a situation where the trade winds, which normally blow from east to west across the southern Pacific, weaken or even reverse direction. This allows a vast expanse of warm water normally located in the western Pacific to drift eastward toward South America. As the water moves back into the central and eastern Pacific, the extra heat energy affects the strength and position of the jet stream and tropical storms, disrupting weather patterns in many parts of the world. The current El Ni¤o developed very rapidly during April-May 1997 and soon matched the magnitude and size of the 1982/83 episode, which was the strongest of the century. The official NOAA forecast calls for this El Ni¤o to persist through the winter of 1997/98 and weaken during May-July 1998.
Impact of El Nino By Region
Australia and Indonesia: In Australia, the impacts from the current El Ni¤o event have not been as strong as anticipated. Although rainfall was below normal in parts of eastern Australia, timely rainfall supported a slightly below average wheat yield. With harvest nearly complete, wheat output is estimated to be the fifth largest on record. In Indonesia, late-arriving rains delayed the normal October/November rice planting and caused a reduction in rice production potential. However, rice output in Indonesia is still forecast above last season and the third highest on record.
Malaysia, Thailand, and Philippines: In Malaysia, rainfall has been below normal but adequate for rice production. In Thailand, below normal rainfall has lowered water reserves for the second rice crop. In the Philippines, localized dryness has reduced corn and rice yields.
Southern Africa: This region is especially susceptible to drought during an El Ni¤o. In the Republic of South Africa, November/December corn planting was delayed due to insufficient rainfall; however, rainfall at the end of December relieved crop stress to the earlier planted crop. Rain that came in late-December will allow farmers to continue to plant into mid-January. An average size corn crop is possible, but timely rains are needed. In Zimbabwe, a hot, dry December negatively affected yield potential for the corn crop and below average yield and output are forecast. In Tanzania and Kenya, drought earlier in the crop year followed by excessive rainfall later in the season has reduced corn output prospects.
India: Past El Ni¤os brought dry weather across northwest India; however, the monsoon was near normal this season and there was no adverse crop impact. India's rice crop is a record.
Central America: Abnormally dry conditions covered the region during June- October. The major El Ni¤o impact in the region is nearly over as their rainy season has ended. The harvest has ended and grain yields are estimated below average.
South America: Abnormally dry conditions have developed across northeast Brazil. Much of northwest, central and southern South America have been wetter than normal. In Argentina, excessive rainfall hampered wheat harvest and reduced quality, but is boosting corn output to a near- record level. In Ecuador and Peru, above-normal rainfall delayed rice planting.
Western Canada and Northern United States: This region experienced warmer and drier than normal rainfall in December. In the Canadian Prairies, where most of the wheat is spring varieties, additional precipitation is needed when the grain crop is planted in April to June period.
California: There has been no major El Nino impacts. In December, southern California experienced above normal precipitation, while near-to-below normal rainfall occurred in the north. Wetter than average weather is expected to continue throughout the winter.
Southern United States: This area has experienced wetter than normal conditions that are related to El Ni¤o. Wetter than normal conditions through March, with cooler than normal temperatures across the Gulf Coast States are forecast by the National Weather Service.[images/footer.html]