Chapter 3. Main producing and exporting countries
Chapter 1 and 2 has focused on large climate anomalies that sometimes reach the size of continents and beyond. The present section offers a closer look at individual countries, including the 42 countries that together produce and commercialize 80 percent of maize, rice, wheat and soybean. As evidenced by the data in this section, even countries of minor agricultural or geopolitical relevance are exposed to extreme conditions and deserve mentioning, particularly when they logically fit into larger patterns.
The global agro-climatic patterns that emerge at the MRU level (chapter 1) are reflected with greater spatial detail at the national and sub-national administrative levels described in this chapter. The “core countries”, including major producing and exporting countries, are all the object of a specific and detailed narrative in the later sections of this chapter, while China is covered in Chapter 4. Sub-national units and national agro- ecological zones receive due attention in this chapter as well.
In many cases, the situations listed below are also mentioned in the section on disasters (chapter 5.2) although extreme events tend to be limited spatially, so that the statistical abnormality is not necessarily reflected in the climate statistics that include larger areas. No attempts are normally made, in this chapter, to identify global patterns that were already covered in Chapter 1. The focus is on 166 individual countries and sometimes their subdivisions for the largest ones. Some of them are relatively minor agricultural producers at the global scale, but their national production is nevertheless crucial for their population, and conditions may be more extreme than among the large producers.
2. Overview of weather conditions in major agricultural exporting countries
The current section provides a short overview of prevailing conditions among the major exporters of maize, rice, wheat and soybeans, conventionally taken as the countries that export at least one million tonnes of the covered commodities. Just 20 countries include the top 10 exporters with the United States and Argentina exporting all four crops and Brazil, Ukraine and Russia exporting three of them each.
Maize: Harvest in the northern hemisphere was completed by last October. Its production conditions were discussed and summarized in the November 2019 bulletin. In the southern hemispheres, maize planting started at the beginning of the rainy season in November and December. In Brazil, however, most maize is sown as a second crop towards the end of the rainy season, after soybean harvest in February. The dry conditions in September and October delayed planting of soybean. This in turn may delay harvest of soybean and subsequent sowing of maize. However, rainfall situation during soybean harvest and sowing of the 2nd maize crop in February are important factors as well, determining the yield potential for the 2nd maize crop. Full season maize was sown in October. In Argentina, the second largest maize exporter, closely followed by Brazil in 3rd position, growth conditions are favorable. High production is expected for both countries. In Eastern and South Africa moisture availability is good. However, excessive rainfall may have caused prolonged periods of excessive soil moisture and leaching of nitrates. Fall army worm continues to be a threat for maize production in Africa, as well as South Asia. Growth conditions for irrigated winter maize in India as well as Bangladesh have been favorable.
Rice: Harvest of rainfed rice in China, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and South-East Asia was completed by December. Conditions for rice were favorable for China and South Asia, although cyclone Bulbul caused damage to rice in the Delta region of Bangladesh and West Bengal in India in November 2019. Planting of irrigated winter rice will start in India and Bangladesh in February. The South-East Asian countries were hit by drought conditions in this monitoring period, which caused slight yield losses for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Rice production in the Philippines and Indonesia was also negatively impacted by droughts.
Wheat: The drought conditions in Australia had limited its wheat yields. Wheat in Argentina also suffered from periodic drought effects, especially in the south, whereas conditions in the north were more favorable. Overall production seems to be comparable to last year's. Brazil, where wheat production concentrated in its two most southern states, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul, is another important wheat producer in the southern hemisphere. As in Argentina, the conditions for wheat growth were mixed. In the northern hemisphere, most (winter) wheat is sown in October and November. Conditions were generally favorable for wheat sowing and the early establishment of wheat in western and southern Europe. Eastern Europe, as well as the Ukraine suffered from below-average rainfall during this monitoring period. Thus, conditions for sowing were generally favorable, but subsequent development may have been hampered somewhat. In the more northern regions, wheat hibernates during the winter months. Conditions during spring green up in March and April will mainly determine the production potential for winter wheat in those regions. In the Middle East, South Asia, mainly Pakistan and India, as well as China conditions for wheat are favorable. However, locusts may pose a threat to wheat production on the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Pakistan (See chapter 5.2 on Disaster Events for a more indepth discussion). The south of the USA is also benefitting from above-average rainfall. However, the northwest is experiencing drier than normal conditions. Conditions for the winter wheat growing regions in Canada are normal. Rainfall is below average in Morocco, limiting the production potential of wheat and barley.
Soybean: Soybeans are predominantly grown during the respective summer months in both hemispheres. Brazil is about to overtake the USA as the leading soybean producer. China, which does not export soybean, is third. Argentina is fourth, but its production is only about 20% of that of Brazil. Other important soybean producers are Paraguay, Canada and Uruguay. Thus, current crop conditions in South America are highly relevant for the soybean market. Lack of rainfall hampered timely sowing of soybean in South America. However, rainfall conditions have turned to normal levels in the meantime. This is reflected in the BIOMSS map, which shows generally above-average production levels in the soybean producing regions of South America.
3. Weather anomalies and biomass production potential changes
3.1 Rainfall (Figure 3.1)
Severe drought conditions continued until the onset of the rainy season in Australia, Indonesia, and parts of the Amazon rainforest. In Brazil and Indonesia, these drought conditions were used to set devastating fires in order to clear land for the production of soybeans and palm oil for export. Below average rainfall (>=-30 to <-10%) continued to be observed for Turkey and Georgia. Between October 2019 and January 2020, i.e, the current reporting period, the rainfall situation improved for South Australia, most of Brazil, the Pampas in Argentina, Colombia, Portugal and Italy. Noteworthy are the Cerrado and Pantanal regions of Brazil, where, after a delayed start of the rainy season, rainfall returned to normal levels. Most of South-East Asia continued to be affected by a rainfall deficit. It continued to be severe not only for Philippines and Indonesia, but Cambodia, Thailand and Laos got hit in this period as well. Abundant rainfall starting in late December brought some relief to this region. Other regions that became rainfall deficient during this monitoring period were the Northwest of the United States, Saskatchewan in Canada, Honduras, Columbia, Venezuela, the Maghreb and a large stretch from Eastern Europe and Southern Russia to the Central Asian countries. Countries with severe deficits were Romania, the Ukraine and Morocco.
Areas where rainfall was much above average(>=30%) included the northwest, Mexico, most of the central and easternStates in the USA, South-west of Europe, countries and islands along theeastern Mediterranean coast, the Sahara, East Africa and South Asia. In Indiaand Pakistan, the abundant monsoon rains finally ceased in late October.
Figure 3.1. National and subnational rainfall anomaly (as indicated by the RAIN indicator) of October 2019 to January 2020 total relative to the 2005-2019 average (15YA), in percent.
3.2 Temperature anomalies (Figure 3.2)
Colder-than-normal temperatures were observed in north-eastern Argentina, the heart of the Amazon basin, the midwest and central-northern states of the USA, Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada, Central Africa, as well as Pakistan and northern India. These colder temperatures did not negatively impact crop production. Moderately above average temperatures (0.5 to 1.5 ºC) were observed for most of Australia, eastern China, central and northern Europe and the countries bordering the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the East-coast of the USA, as well as eastern portions of Brazil. Large positive departures in the excess of 1.5ºC were observed for Eastern Europe and a large portion of Russia from its western border to central Siberia, as well as Kazakhstan. Warmer temperatures limit the depth and duration of snow cover and advance the phenological development of winter wheat. These conditions increase the risk of frost damage in case of cold snaps.
Figure 3.2. National and subnational temperatute rainfall anomaly (as indicated by the RAIN indicator) of October 2019 to January 2020 average relative to the 2005-2019 average (15YA), in °C.
3.3 RADPAR anomalies (Figure 3.3)
Higher solar radiation increases photosynthesis and thus crop production potential and yields. Above-average conditions were recorded for Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America and the Western United States, the Maghreb, South-East Africa, Eastern Europe, the Ukraine, Turkey, north-east China as well as South-East Asia and Australia. The Pampas in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Eastern halves of USA and Canada, Western Europe, East Africa and South Asia, as well as southern China were affected by below-average radiation. The impact of lower radiation in the northern hemisphere on crop production is negligible, since most crops are in the vegetative phase or hibernate. The situation is similar for the southern hemisphere, where the crops are sown at the beginning of the rainy season only, which typically starts in November. One exception is winter wheat in southern Africa and Argentina, where it is sown in June/July and harvested in December and January, thus the grain-filling phase fell into this period. However, in Argentina, soil moisture, which was favorable this season, is generally more limiting than solar radiation.
Figure 3.3. National and subnational sunshine anomaly (as indicated by the RADPAR indicator) of October 2019 to January 2020 total relative to the 2005-2019 average (15YA), in percent.
3.4 Biomass accumulation potential BIOMSS (Figure 3.4)
The BIOMSS indicator is controlled by temperature, rainfall and solar radiation. In some regions, rainfall is more limiting, whereas in other ones, mainly the tropical ones, solar radiation tends to be the limiting factor. For parts of Brazil and the Pampas, the BIOMSS estimates were up or mixed. Mexico benefitted from the increased rainfall. In some regions, like the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and India, 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 favorable conditions. In the other regions, such as Eastern China, Eastern Europe and Southern Russia, and the Middle East, the monitoring period covered the sowing phase of the winter crops. Good conditions for BIOMSS production help the plants get well established.
Figure 3.4. National and subnational biomass production potential anomaly (as indicated by the BIOMSS indicator) of October 2019 to January 2020 total relative to the 2005-2019 average (15YA), in percent.