During the second half of March, a USDA team traveled through the main agricultural regions of Morocco and Tunisia to assess winter grain (wheat and barley) conditions. Winter crops for the 2000/01 season in portions of Northwest Africa are suffering from a second straight year of below normal rainfall. After receiving nearly optimal weather conditions from early rains arriving in October and lasting through mid-December, production expectations were high. However, rainfall was practically nonexistent in Morocco and western Algeria from the beginning of January. Early April showers were not enough to restore soil moisture levels. Production is expected to be down significantly from the 1999/2000 poor harvest.
Conversely, in Tunisia, the wheat crop
grown in the northern zones received more regular precipitation
than the barley areas. Occasional showers and infrequent rains
during winter and early spring may lead to an "average"
crop. Crop prospects are better for wheat than barley. On May 12,
USDA will release the first country forecast of 2000/01 area,
yield, and production for wheat and coarse grains.
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