Estimates and Crop Assessment Division
August 12, 2003
USDA estimates central Europe's 2003/04 wheat production at 22.2 million tons, down 27 percent from last season’s near-average crop of 30.5 million. Harvested area is forecast at 7.9 million hectares, down 17 percent or 1.6 million hectares from last year. Yield is forecast at 2.8 tons/ha, well below the 3.4 t/ha average. The paltry 2003/04 wheat total stems from a combination of less planted area and poor yields. Producers faced a particularly short 2003 fall planting window, wedged between an unusually late summer harvest, heavy October rains, and an early onset to winter. These events delayed or prevented autumn sowing activities. In addition, winter was particularly harsh, having left higher than normal winterkill, including significant frost damage in early spring. Finally, since March, drought became especially destructive to wheat plants as they progressed through critical growing periods.
Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, and
Bosnia/Herzegovina. These central Balkan countries probably have the
richest soils in the region, but they have also suffered at the center of the 2003
drought. All will harvest a much-reduced wheat crop. Hungary is
estimated to produce just 3.0 million tons (3.9 million last year), Serbia only
1.4 million (2.2 million), Croatia at 0.6 million (0.9 million) and Bosnia at
0.1 million (0.3 million).
Romania and Bulgaria. Romania is estimated to harvest its smallest crops on record, only 2.6 million tons. Last year was also a drought year, with production capped at 4.3 million tons. Romania’s average wheat crop is 5.1 million tons. In Bulgaria, the country’s western half fared well, but its more agriculturally prominent eastern region (around Dobrich) has struggled with only minimal precipitation. The 2003/04 crop is estimated at just 2.0 million tons, a far cry from last year’s rain-induced bumper harvest of 3.5 million.
Poland, Czech and Slovakia. The northern countries will also see reduced production from poor weather, but dryness and heat were less severe north of Hungary than it was in the Balkans. Polish wheat production is estimated at 8.0 million tons (9.3 million last year), and the Czech Republic is estimated to produce 2.8 million (3.9 million), and Slovakia should harvest 1.0 million tons (1.6 million).
USDA's August release reports central Europe's 2003/04 corn production at 25.1 million tons, down 2.2 million or 8 percent from last year’s 27.3 million ton crop. Harvested area is forecast at 7.0 million hectares, up 6 percent from last year’s 6.6 million hectares. Yield is currently forecast to be slightly below average at 3.6 tons per hectare, compared to 3.8 t/ha. Continued dry weather can still seriously reduce developing yield prospects. Recent July rainfall has helped alleviate stressed plants, but more rain in early August will be critical for further development and can make a large difference in the final yield.
Corn area increased considerably in 2003/04, often replacing reduced fall-planted varieties of wheat, barley and rapeseed. Excessive October rains left many fields fallow last fall and higher than normal winterkill conditions were major factors leading to an altered cropping mix that favored corn and other summer crops. Since late winter, drought has been lowering expectations of what was to be a very large corn harvest. Many of the areas hardest hit by dryness are also some of the largest corn producing zones in central Europe. Specifically, the biggest yield concerns are for the central and southern Balkan countries, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania, and Bulgaria.
Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia/Herzegovina. Dryness has been severe in this important grain-producing region. Hungary is now expected to produce 5.8 million tons (6.0 million last year). Serbia and Montenegro’s corn production is estimated at 5.0 million tons (5.8 million), Croatia is at 1.8 million tons (2.4 million), and Bosnia-Herzegovina is at 0.8 million (0.9 million).
In the southern Balkans, the Romanian corn harvest is currently estimated at 6.5 million tons (7.3 million last year), while Bulgaria is estimated to harvest 1.3 million tons (1.0 million) of corn. Both countries are showing very deficient soil moisture levels in their large corn and sunflower producing eastern counties. More specifically, drought has not relented in Romania, affecting every growing region.
Poland is estimated to harvest 2.0 million tons (2.0 million last year), while the Czech Republic should collect 0.6 million tons (0.6 million). Slovakia is estimated to harvest 0.7 million tons (0.7 million last year). Poland and the other northern European countries continue to rapidly increase production of grain corn as more short-season varieties have become available. A large problem however, with producing corn in Poland is the highly expensive drying activity because the grain is typically harvested with 30 percent moisture content.
Central Europe's Total Wheat Production Ranked by Year
* The 2003/04 harvest is estimated to be the lowest since the political changes of the early nineties:
1) 2001/02 34.9 million tons
|Central Europe production includes Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Romania, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Macedonia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania|
Precipitation Totals And Soil Moisture
Levels Are At Or Near Ten Year Lows In Many Areas
Season Drought Map
Primary Growing Regions
Secondary Growing Regions
Over The Years: Comparison of Precipitation Totals During the Last Decade
|Northern Poland||Southern Poland|
|Hungary, All||Hungary, Eastern and Western|
|Southern||Western||Black Sea Coast|
Area and Production: USDA Yearly Statistics as of August 2003 Release.
Central Europe wheat and corn area by country (1,000 hectares)
Central Europe wheat and corn production (1,000 tons)
Wheat production by country (1,000 tons)
Corn production by country (1,000 tons)
Yearly Production Levels by Graph: Corn Wheat
Landsat 7 scene showing decrease in Romanian wheat area