The USDA estimates 2017/18 Sri Lanka rice area at 1.1 million hectares (mha), up 10 percent from last year despite below-normal reservoir levels and a shortage of seeds.
Heavy rainfall in May caused severe flooding in the southwest, but that did not alleviate the drought conditions in the north-central and eastern parts of the country, the USDA said in its latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report.
The report said the reservoir levels are estimated to be at 32 percent of capacity compared to 76 percent last year. Production is forecast at 2.9 million metric tons (mmt) milled or 4.26 rough, up 23 percent from last year’s drought reduced crop.
Rice is grown year-round in Sri Lanka. For 2017/18 total rice production, USDA combines the 2017/18 yala crop and the 2017/18 maha crop for the total estimate.
The yala crop, which comprises about 40 percent of production, is planted in May and June and is harvested in October. Currently, surface water is lower this year in comparison to last year, which limits the amount of water available for irrigation.
“Rice yields are expected to be below average. Planting of the maha crop, which accounts for about 60 percent total production, will begin in December. Assuming normal weather, maha output will likely offset shortfalls in the yala crop, the report said, adding that the yield is forecast to reach 3.88 metric tons per hectare, up 12 percent from last year but 5 percent below the 5-year average.