The current CropWatch bulletin describes world-wide crop condition and food production as appraised by data up to the end of January 2020.
The assessment is based mainly on remotely sensed data. It covers prevailing weather conditions, including extreme factors, at different spatial scales, starting with global patterns in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 focuses on agro-climatic and agronomic conditions in major production zones in all continents. Chapter 3 covers the major agricultural countries that, together, make up at least 80% of production and exports (the “core countries”) while chapter 4 zooms into China. Special attention is paid to the production outlook of major cereal and oil crops (maize, rice, wheat and soybean) countries in the southern Hemisphere and some tropical and sub-tropical countries. Subsequent sections of Chapter 5 describe the global disasters that occurred from October 2019 to January 2020.
This bulletin covers the beginning of the rainy season in the southern hemisphere, as well as the sowing period and early vegetative growth of (winter) wheat in the northern hemisphere.
Global agroclimatic conditions are assessed based on CropWatch Agroclimatic Indices which describe weather and climate over agricultural areas only. They are referred to as RAIN, TEMP and RADPAR and expressed in the same units as the corresponding climatological variables (rainfall, temperature and photosynthetically active radiation). BIOMSS is an estimate of the plant biomass production potential.
During this reporting period, yet another temperature record was set: No other month of January in NOAA's 141-year global temperature dataset was as warm as January 2020. The CropWatch TEMP indicator, which is calculated over cropped areas only, also showed that the average temperature between October 2019 and January 2020 was 0.3ºC above the 15 year average. This was not the only alarming news during this monitoring period: In Australia, wheat was negatively affected by drought conditions and above average temperatures. Similarly, dry conditions, partly caused by a delayed onset of the rains, induced yield losses for the main rice crops in South-East Asia.
On the positive side, rainfall in South America returned to normal after the delayed onset of the rainy season, ensuring normal to favorable conditions for wheat, maize and soybean production.
Wheat is the main crop that was sown and grown in the northern hemisphere during this monitoring period. Rainfall was above average in the southern USA and winter wheat production in the Southern Plains stands to benefit. Drier than normal conditions were observed for the north-west of the USA. The winter wheat production regions of Canada experienced normal conditions. In Europe, Siberia and the North China Plain, conditions for wheat sowing and its early vegetative growth were also favorable. However, below-average rainfall was observed for Romania and the Ukraine. But we are still early in the season: Soil moisture during spring green up in March and April will mainly determine the production potential for winter wheat. Conditions for wheat production in Pakistan and India are also favorable. In those countries, wheat is predominantly irrigated and does not go dormant.
Rainfall in many parts of Africa was more than 30% above average, partly due to a prolonged rainy season in the Sahel. A phenomenon called positive Indian Ocean Dipole, which is caused by warmer temperatures in the Indian Ocean, brought torrential rains to many East African countries. Similarly, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, Pakistan and India experienced above average rainfall as well. For the Sahel, Horn of Africa and South Asia, the monitoring period covered the grain-filling phase of the cereals, which were predominantly harvested in October and November. Yield of these crops may have benefitted from above-average rainfall, as biomass production estimates were above average. Rainy and favorable conditions for crops and pastures also favored the outbreak of Desert locusts. Although losses of cereal crops as a result of desert locusts were limited and at local scales, locusts still pose a threat to other crops such as potatoes and to the crops in the coming season not only on the Horn of Africa, but on the on the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Pakistan as well (See section 5.2 DISASTER EVENTS for more details).
Global Agricultural production estimates
The current production outlook focuses on major cereal and oil crops (maize, rice, wheat and soybean) producing countries in the southern Hemisphere and some tropical and sub-tropical countries. Production forecasts are generally favorable for all crops.
The production forecasts for the 2019/20 maize season in Brazil and Argentina, the 2nd and 3rd largest exporters of maize, are up by 1% and 3% compared to last year. Of the 10 maize producing countries being monitored, only Zambia and Mexico showed decreases in maize production by 5% and 7% respectively. The outlook for maize production in southern Africa is favorable, as the region is recovering from last year's drought: Forecasts for South Africa (+20%) and Angola (+5%) are positive. Rice production in the key 14 rice-producing countries in South and South-East Asia is also expected to recover from last year's dry conditions, with the exception of Indonesia (-3%). For most of the other countries, production is expected to be stable or even increase by more than 3%. Wheat is still in the vegetative stage in the five countries being monitored: Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, India and Pakistan. It will reach the flowering stage in early March. For Morocco, the only country where most wheat is rainfed, a yield decline of 25% is forecasted, due to the shortage of rain. In Egypt, India and Pakistan, which are predominantly irrigated, production is expected to be stable or increase by up to 4-5%. Brazil and Argentina combined account for about half of the world's soybean exports. Production in the two countries is expected to increase by 1-2% over last year.
This monitoring period covered the harvest of rice and maize, as well as the sowing of winter wheat in northern China. Weather conditions were favorable for harvest and the establishment of the wheat crop. Cropped area land fraction (CALF) is up for Huanghuaihai (+10%) and the Loess Region (+21%), although this could be partly due to above-average temperatures, which advanced the development of winter crops. BIOMSS estimates are also up for most regions, except for the Loess Region and southern China. Precipitation in the South and South East was below average. However, rice planting will start during the next monitoring period only.