The U.N. food agency raised the forecast for 2017 cereal production and said early indications pointed to smaller wheat and coarse grain crops this year.
The Food and Agriculture Organization said latest forecast points to world cereal production expanding by 33 million tonnes (1.3 percent) in 2017 to reach nearly 2.646 billion tonnes largely on the back of greater maize production expectations.
“At this level, global cereal output would be 3.5 million tonnes above February’s forecast, mostly reflecting an upward revision to the maize output in the European Union,” it said.
FAO’s forecast of world rice production was also raised to a record high of 503 million tonnes, as improved prospects for the secondary crop in India more than compensated for downward adjustments to output in Indonesia and the United Republic of Tanzania.
On wheat, the FAO said:
- Prospects for wheat production in 2018 are more restrained, given less favourable weather conditions and lower prices.
- The latest forecast for world wheat production in 2018 stands at 750 million tonnes, down 7 million tonnes from the 2017 near-record level but still 6 million tonnes higher than projected last month, reflecting increased projected plantings in the United States and improved prospects in the Russian Federation.
- In the United States, based on the latest USDA estimate (29 March 2018) for the 2018 sowings, projecting higher wheat plantings than last year, total wheat production could rebound somewhat from last year’s decline.
- In the Russian Federation, recent beneficial weather conditions bolstered winter wheat prospects although, assuming yields remain below last year’s exceptional level, overall wheat production could still fall below the record registered in 2017.
- Among the other CIS countries, increased plantings combined with favourable weather are expected to result in a small production increase in Ukraine.
- Despite mostly favourable crop conditions in the EU, the winter wheat output is forecast to fall mostly on account of a reduction in sowings. In Asia, harvesting of the 2018 wheat crop is underway.
- Outputs in China and India, the largest wheat-producing countries, are foreseen to contract marginally from the record highs of 2017, while in Pakistan good weather is forecast to instigate a production increase this year.
- Prospects in North Africa have improved moderately as a result of recent beneficial rains, following a dry winter, although pockets of dryness still persist in Tunisia and Algeria. In the southern hemisphere, planting of the wheat crop will start soon.
On coarse grains, it said:
- Harvesting of the 2018 crop is commencing in southern hemisphere countries, while sowings are currently underway in the northern hemisphere.
- In South America, production is expected to fall from the record highs of 2017, amid bad weather in Argentina and a shift away from maize cultivation towards soybeans in Brazil.
- In Southern Africa, although recent beneficial rains have partly reversed earlier concerns associated with dry weather conditions, production is still forecast to fall from the high levels of 2017. A cut in area sown in South Africa, reflecting lower maize prices, further negatively weighed on the production prospects in 2018.