Global crop production review, 2007
The following is an annual review of regional crop production, comparing 2007 with the previous year. For both the northern and southern hemispheres, these summaries reflect growing season weather for crops that were harvested in the calendar year of 2007. For most countries, changes in production for 2007 are based on crop estimates released by the US Department of Agriculture in February 2008.
Wheat and coarse grain
In 2007, global wheat production increased 2 per cent from 2006. Production increased in the USA, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil and Australia. Wheat production declined in Canada, most of the major producing countries in the European Union, Ukraine, Turkey and Morocco. The country-level changes in 2007 wheat production from 2006 are shown in Figure 1. Global coarse grain production increased over 7 per cent in 2007. Production increases in the USA, Canada, India, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa offset production declines in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, major producing countries in the European Union, China, Turkey and Australia.
In the USA, wheat production increased 14 per cent from 2006, with production totals up for all major classes of wheat (winter, spring and durum). Durum production was up 34 per cent from 2006 due to much more favourable growing conditions on the northern plains. Spring wheat production was up 4 per cent from the previous year, despite a 7 per cent decline in harvested area. Growing conditions for winter wheat were overall markedly improved (production was up 17 per cent from 2006), despite an April freeze across southern growing areas, drought in the north-west and excessive wetness around harvest time on the central and southern plains. Hard red winter wheat production was up 41 per cent from 2006, due largely to much wetter conditions on the previously drought-stricken southern plains. The April freeze damaged a portion of the soft red winter wheat crop, resulting in production falling 8 per cent from last year. Farther west, white winter wheat production was down 13 per cent from 2006, due partly to untimely heat and dryness during the growing season. Meanwhile, US corn production was up 24 per cent from 2006, due in part to the nation’s largest planted acreage since 1944 and largest harvested acreage since 1933. US corn production was a record high, while yield attained its second-highest level on record (3.84 tonnes per hectare versus 4.07 in 2004).
In Canada, wheat production fell 20 per cent due to a combination of lower area and yields. Unseasonable dryness and a late spring frost impacted winter wheat in Ontario’s southern growing areas but conditions reportedly allowed timely nutrient applications and treatment for diseases and pests, helping to mitigate potential losses. On the prairies, nearly ideal spring weather gave way to stressful periods of heat and dryness during the summer, particularly in western growing areas, resulting in disappointing spring wheat yields after an auspicious start to the season. In contrast, coarse grain production was 20 per cent higher than in 2006 due to a significant increase in acreage, especially in the Ontario corn belt, where yields rose from the previous year despite summer dryness. Barley production rose nearly 15 per cent as an increase in Prairie acreage offset declining yields.
In the European Union (EU-27), wheat production gains in Poland and Spain were more than offset by reductions in central and south-eastern Europe (total production down 4 per cent). One of the warmest winters on record provided generally fair conditions for most crops and promoted faster-than-normal winter wheat development. Consequently, a pair of late spring freezes arrived as wheat was entering reproduction (up to a month ahead of the long-term average), although most growing areas reported little widespread damage. However, protracted dryness settled over central and northern Europe during the spring, depleting moisture supplies for reproductive winter crops. The weather pattern changed dramatically in early June, when unrelenting rainfall hampered harvesting and reduced grain quality. Consequently, wheat production in France, the EU’s leading producer, dropped over 7 per cent, while reductions of more than 6 and 10 per cent were noted in Germany and the United Kingdom, respectively. Of more significance, however, were extreme summertime heat and drought in south-eastern Europe (Figure 2), which slashed wheat production by more than 30 per cent in the new EU-member countries of Romania and Bulgaria. In contrast, wheat production improved for a second consecutive year in Spain, while irrigated winter wheat in Italy (up almost 10 per cent) was spared the excessive heat and dryness observed in the Balkans.
The mid-summer heat and dryness in southeastern Europe also caused European Union total coarse grain production to slip. In Hungary and Romania, it plunged 44 and 55 per cent respectively, as crops withered under stressful heat (as much as 38°C) during late July and again in late August (see Figure 2), at a time when corn had reached the temperature- and moisture-sensitive silking to filling stages of development. The large crop losses in south-eastern growing areas were nearly offset (total European Union production was down 1 per cent) by gains of almost 30 per cent in Poland and Spain, both of which were spared from excessive heat and protracted dry spells during the summer. Corn production fell over 13 per cent, with considerable crop losses noted in Romania (58 per cent) and Hungary (51 per cent). However, the summertime wetness across central and northern Europe was advantageous for corn, with gains noted in Poland (35 per cent) and France (18 per cent). Barley production was mixed across the European Union, with reductions of 10 per cent or greater in France, Germany and Austria, while production increased over 25 per cent in Spain, Poland and Sweden.
In the Russian Federation, wheat production rose 10 per cent in 2007 due to below-average winterkill in winter wheat areas and favorable weather in areas where spring wheat is grown. (Winter wheat is mostly grown in the Southern District and southern areas of the Central and Volga Districts, while spring wheat is grown from the Volga District eastward through the Siberia District). In the autumn of 2006, dry weather limited topsoil moisture for crop emergence and establishment in major winter wheat producing areas. However, mild weather and adequate moisture in October and November improved conditions for winter wheat establishment, alleviating prior concerns about a lack of planting moisture. A mild winter provided favourable overwintering conditions for winter grains. Winterkill was below average and much less than the previous year. As a result, winter wheat broke dormancy in the spring in much better condition than the previous year. As spring progressed, weather conditions became worse for winter grain development. Hot, dry weather developed during the middle of May and persisted through early June, stressing winter wheat as it advanced through the reproductive phase of crop development. Although these unfavourable weather conditions reduced yield prospects, winter wheat production increased 20 per cent due to unusually low winterkill that resulted in a substantial increase in area.
In May, above-normal precipitation slowed planting progress of spring wheat in the Urals and Siberia Districts, but provided abundant to locally excessive moisture for spring wheat emergence and early establishment. During the remainder of the growing season, timely rains at key stages of crop development were followed by good harvest weather, boosting yield prospects. Despite smaller area, spring wheat production remained close to the above-average level of the previous year. Russian coarse grain production declined 3 per cent, mainly due to a 14 per cent decline in spring barley production that offset increases in oats, rye and corn production. The decline in spring barley production was mainly due to excessive heat and dryness in the south of the Russian Federation in May and June.
In Ukraine, where most of the wheat consists of winter varieties, wet weather in August 2006 provided generous planting moisture across most of the country. Although warm, dry weather in September reduced topsoil moisture in western and south-eastern growing areas, above-normal precipitation and mild weather in October reversed September’s dry weather pattern, boosting soil moisture and improving conditions for crop establishment. Winter wheat entered dormancy in late November and early December in much better condition than the previous year, when fall drought hampered crop emergence and establishment. During the winter, unseasonably mild weather provided generally auspicious overwintering conditions for winter wheat and winterkill was below average. Drought conditions developed in the spring and were accompanied by extremely hot weather from 20 May-2 June, adversely affecting winter wheat in the highly weather-sensitive reproductive phase of development and resulting in a 9 per cent decline in yield. Overall, wheat production declined only slightly from the previous year, mainly due to a 9 per cent increase in area. Coarse grain production fell 24 per cent from 2006, due mainly to a 51 per cent decline in spring barley production caused by drought and periodic heat in May and June. Corn production increased 16 per cent due to higher area and yield.
In Kazakhstan, spring grains (mostly spring wheat and spring barley) historically account for about 90 per cent of total grain production. Furthermore, most of the wheat grown i is of a spring variety; spring barley typically accounts for about 80 per cent of Kazakhstan’s coarse grain production. Wheat production rose 23 per cent in 2007, while coarse grain production rose 25 per cent. The combination of timely rain and a lack of stressful heat during the growing season boosted yield prospects. Mostly dry weather in the autumn encouraged harvest activities.
In Turkey, winter wheat production dropped 11 per cent from 2006, as heat and dryness in south-eastern Europe gradually spread into western parts of the Middle East. Turkey’s barley production also suffered from the drought, with a decrease of more than 13 per cent. As depicted by Figure 3, 10 November 2006 to 1 September 2007 was the driest such period over the past 30 years in western Turkey. Consequently, both winter and summer crops suffered significant losses, including not only wheat and barley but also cotton and corn. In contrast, wheat and barley production increased (1 and 3 per cent, respectively) in the Islamic Repubic of Iran, as fair weather boosted crop yields.
In north-western Africa, extreme drought slashed Moroccan wheat production by more than 76 per cent over last year, with barley production down almost 79 per cent. The sharp contrast between successive rainy seasons is illustrated in Figure 4, notably the dryness which began in November 2006. Meanwhile, timely rain maintained beneficial moisture supplies for winter wheat and barley in Algeria and Tunisia, with winter crop production up slightly in both countries.
In China, wheat production rose slightly (less than 2 per cent) from 2006. Despite a dry spring, soil moisture was adequate due to seasonal irrigation, and dry weather in May and June aided harvesting. Corn production remained unchanged as increased area offset a reduction in yields due to inconsistent rains in Manchuria (Figure 5).
In India, wheat production increased 8 per cent, not only from an increase in planted area, but also courtesy of beneficial winter and spring weather. Likewise, Indian coarse grain production increased (5 per cent) as a result of timely, abundant monsoon rainfall. In Pakistan, a third straight year of favourable weather coupled with a slight increase in planted acreage resulted in a 6 per cent increase in wheat production.
In the southern hemisphere, a severe drought plagued much of the Australian wheat belt for the second consecutive year. Nevertheless, pockets of reasonably good weather enabled national wheat and barley production to rebound year-over-year, increasing 22 and 39 per cent, respectively, relative to 2006 levels. In the autumn, unseasonably dry weather in Western Australia hampered wheat and barley sowing. During the remainder of the growing season, near-normal rainfall in southern portions of the state aided wheat and barley development. In contrast, below-normal rainfall in northern parts of Western Australia offered little drought relief, limiting winter grain production.
Elsewhere, soaking rains brought much-needed drought relief to southern and eastern Australia during the autumn, encouraging winter grain planting and establishment. Occasional showers continued in central Queensland throughout the growing season, benefiting winter wheat. In south-eastern Australia, however, much drier weather spread overthe area during winter and spring (Figure 6). Periodic heat compounded the dryness, causing drought to become re-established across the region. The unseasonably hot, dry weather was devastating for jointing, reproductive and filling winter grains, causing wheat and barley yields to fall well short of potential.
In South Africa, corn production rose about 5 per cent from the 2005/2006 growing season, as a substantial increase in area (2.90 million hectares versus 2.03 last year) offset yield declines caused by untimely summer dryness. Coarse grain production in Argentina rose more than 40 per cent, due to improved weather from the 2005/2006 season. In particular, corn area rose approximately 360 000 hectares, with yields increasing by about 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
Similarly, Brazilian corn production rose 22 per cent, fuelled by increases of both yield and area. Conditions were especially promising in southern Brazil, which had been affected by drought at various stages during the previous three summer growing seasons (Figure 7). Argentine winter wheat production rose slightly, as larger area helped to offset the effects of a late spring freeze in primary production areas of Buenos Aires. Wheat production rebounded in Brazil, which was hit by a severe freeze last year.
Global oilseed production declined 4 per cent in 2007. Production increased in India, Brazil and Argentina, and declined in the USA, Russian Federation, Ukraine, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Canada and most countries of the European Union.
In North America, U S soybean production was 19 per cent below the record high of 2006. Yield was down less than 4 per cent from last year, but a 16 per cent decrease in harvested acreage contributed significantly to the drop in production. The greatest threat to US soybean production were the drought and excessively high temperatures that affected southern growing areas. Production of major Canadian oilseeds fell 8 per cent from 2006 despite a 10 per cent increase in total area. Ontario soybean production was hit by summer drought, as were canola and other summer-grown oilseeds in western sections of the prairies.
In the European Union, oilseed reductions in the drought-stricken countries of Romania (down 52 per cent) and Hungary (down 16 per cent) were mostly offset by gains across the remainder of Europe, with a net total decrease of less than 1 per cent. In particular, production increases of 7 per cent were noted in France and the United Kingdom, with even larger gains in the Czech Republic (up 13 per cent). Rapeseed production improved nearly region-wide for the second straight year, reflecting a continued expansion of area planted to rapeseed. Of the largest European rapeseed producers, only Germany reported a slight decrease (less than 1 per cent) due to unfavourably wet summer harvest weather.
In the Russian Federation and Ukraine, sunflower production fell 16 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively in 2007. Excessive heat and dryness prevailed across major sunflower producing areas in the south of the Russian Federation and Ukraine during July and August, reducing yield prospects for sunflowers advancing through the flowering and filling stages of development. Sunflower area also declined in both countries.
In China, soybean area declined sharply due to increased corn planting. Additionally, yields were down from inconsistent rains and prolonged periods of dryness in Manchuria and especially Heilongjiang (Figure 5). The combined effects of reduced area and yield led to a 10 per cent decrease in soybean production. Rapeseed production fell by nearly 9 per cent in response to area and yield reductions. Despite seemingly propitious weather and adequate soil moisture from irrigation, above-normal temperatures during reproduction likely contributed to the yield reductions.
In India, total oilseed production shot up 12 per cent from 2006, reflecting an increase in acreage as well as higher yields. Winter rapeseed production was down 5 per cent from last year, although this was attributed to a significant decrease in area. Summer oilseed production increased substantially due to the wettest Indian monsoon since 1981, as well as an increase in area planted. In particular, gains were reported for sunflowers (29 per cent), soybeans (20 per cent), and peanuts (11 per cent).
Improved weather in 2007 led to significant increases in South American oilseed production. In Brazil, soybean production reached a record 59 million tonnes, despite a 7 per cent reduction in acreage, mainly due to improved growing-season weather in drought-prone southern farming areas (see Figure 7). Argentina harvested a record 47 million tonnes of soybeans in 2007 due to increases in both area and yield.
World rice production rose slightly in 2007. It was slightly higher than 2006 levels in most of South-East Asia, while production trailed last year’s pace in Bangladesh and India.
Decreases in rice production were noted across South Asia, where excessive monsoon rainfall in Bangladesh and eastern India caused flooding and necessitated replanting of main-season rice on several occasions. In addition, powerful tropical cyclone Sidr struck southern and central Bangladesh in mid-November as main-season rice harvesting was underway, further trimming crop expectations (Figure 8). The cyclone’s rapid movement mitigated the impacts somewhat, although damage to crops and infrastructure were reported along and east of the storm path. Elsewhere, propitious monsoon rains and ample irrigation increased rice production slightly throughout Thailand, Viet Nam and China with a slight reduction in the Philippines due to dryness in key northern growing areas.
Global cotton production dropped 2 per cent in 2007. It increased in Uzbekistan, India, Argentina, and Brazil and declined in the USA, Turkey and Pakistan and remained unchanged in China and Greece.
In the northern hemisphere, US cotton production was 12 per cent below last year, mainly due to an 18 per cent decline in harvested acreage. Yield, however, attained a record high, surpassing the 2004 standard. Cotton yields were markedly higher on the southern plains, where encouraging wet conditions replaced last year’s drought. In contrast, drought adversely affected some cotton acreage in the south-east. In Greece and Turkey, cotton areas were hit with scorching heat (temperatures greater than 40°C) as the crop entered reproduction. Consequently, Greek production remained unchanged from the 2006 15-year low, while Turkish production fell 15 per cent from last year. In India, cotton production rose 12 per cent as planted acreage and yields increased. Production in Pakistan fell 13 per cent in response to widespread pest infestations as well as early-season flooding and late-season heat. In Uzbekistan, cotton production rose 3 per cent in 2007 due to very promising weather during the entire growing season and harvest period. In China, cotton production remained unchanged compared to last year as a slight decrease in yield due to wet harvest weather on the North China Plain was offset by an increase in area.
In the southern hemisphere, 2007 Australian cotton production plunged 52 per cent relative to 2006 levels. Below-normal rainfall and drought-reduced reservoirs limited moisture supplies for dryland and irrigated cotton, significantly reducing crop production. In Brazil, cotton production rose nearly 50 per cent on substantial increases in both acreage and yield. Argentine production rose nearly 30 per cent, due to a similar increase in acreage and stable yields.
Contact: MeteoWorld Editor - WMO ©2008 Geneva, Switzerland