The 1998/99 grain area (wheat, coarse grains, and milled rice) declined 7.0 million hectares from last year to an estimated 683.7 million hectares, partially in response to low grain prices. Global grain area has contracted from the 1978/79 level of 713.4 million hectares as producers idled more area and shifted into other crops such as oilseeds. Average yield increased 33 percent from the previous two decades to 2.70 tons per hectare in 1998/99. An increase in inputs and a decline in lower yielding grain crops contributed to the increase in yields. Global 1998/99 grain production is forecast at 1,849 million tons, up 403 million from 1978/79. For this season, the crop is lower than 1997/98 because of moderate declines in world wheat and rice output and slightly reduced global coarse grain crops.
World demand for high protein animal feeds and vegetable oil has pushed area for the major oilseeds up to record levels, climbing from 120.4 million hectares in 1978/79 to 170.8 million this season, a 42 percent increase. Average yield increased 38 percent from 1978/79 to 1.62 tons per hectare in 1998/99. World oilseed production is up 95 percent from 1978/79 to 277.2 million tons in 1998/99. With area up and yield down from 1997/98 to 1998/99, production during the year is estimated to be up less than 1 percent.[images/footer.html]