Table 5.1 presents the final revision by the CropWatch team of the global maize, rice, wheat and soybeans production estimates for 2019. It is issued at a time when all 2018-2019 winter crops and 2019 summer crops in the temperate northern hemisphere have been harvested; in the southern hemisphere winter crops are growing and the planting of the summer season/monsoon season is underway or about to start. The planting of the second crop is ongoing or about to start in equatorial areas.
CropWatch production estimates differ from most other global or regional estimates by the use of near-real time geophysical data and models. They are based on a combination of remote-sensing models (for major commodities at the national level) and statistical trend-based projections for minor producers and for those countries which will harvest their crops in the two last months of 2019, for which no directly observed crop condition information is as yet available. In Table 5.1 below, modeled outputs are in red bold font. The percentage of modeled global production varies according to crops: 85% for maize, 94% for rice, 89% of wheat (most of it being northern hemisphere winter wheat) and 82% for soybeans.
The 42 countries for which production estimates are provided are described in detail in chapter 3 while a whole chapter is devoted to China (Chapter 4). Kyrgyzstan was added for the first time in this bulletin. The 42 + 1 countries are referred to conventionally as the “Major producers”. “Others” include the 141 countries from Albania, Algeria, Armenia [...] to Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe. The total output for “other” countries was obtained by adding national projections for 2019 rather than projecting the sum.
This production outlook focused on major cereal and oil crops (maize, rice, wheat and soybean) countries in the southern Hemisphere and some tropical and sub-tropical countries. Production estimates and predictions in CropWatch are based on time series vegetation index dataset covering the period from sowing up to end of January 2020, combining the crop masks of those countries. The calibration of the yield prediction model is carried out for different crops (Table 5.1), which is based on the statistical indicators over different crop masks and the historical production information. The remote sensing-based annual variation of the planted area is also taken into consideration when calculating crop production.
Table 5.1 lists the results of the maize production prediction for seven countries in Africa and three countries in the America, including Brazil and Argentina, the 2nd and 3rd largest exporters of maize. CropWatch predicts that maize production in Argentina and Brazil will grow by 1% and 3% compared to 2019, respectively, which is beneficial to the maize supply on the international market. Of the 10 maize producing countries being monitored, only Zambia and Mexico showed decreases in maize production, which were down by 5% and 7% respectively. Zambia was mainly affected by the poor soil moisture during the maize sowing period as a result of rainfall deficit; Maize production in Mexico decreased as a result of the reduced planted area and low yield due to the delayed growth at early stage. Maize production in other African countries is flat or slightly increasing; it is noteworthy that South Africa recovered from the drought year in 2019, with a significant recovery (+20%) in maize production. Angola also recovered from a drought-affected 2019 with a 5% increase of its maize production. Although local areas of Horn of Africa including Kenya and Ethiopia were affected by desert locust disasters, most of the maize had been harvested when the locusts infested and the pests had limited impact on production.
This current production prediction covers 14 rice-producing countries, including most of the key producing countries in South and South-East Asia. Except for 3% drop of rice production in Indonesia, rice production in other Southeast Asian countries is expected to recover from the dry and hot year of 2019. Rice productions of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are expected to increase by more than 3% while Pakistan and Sri Lanka are expected to be stable. Rice production of Nigeria, Mozambique and Angola increased by 1% to 3%. Rice outputs in Argentina and Brazil decreased by 1% and 4%, respectively, but the two countries were not among the top 10 key rice exporters, and the production decreases in both countries has limited impact on the global rice market.
Table 5.1 lists wheat production in five countries: Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, India and Pakistan. Harvest of wheat in the southern hemisphere countries (Australia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, etc.) already concluded by 2020 and wheat production in those countries has been revised in the previous bulletin. This bulletin focuses on the countries where wheat is either being harvested in early 2020 or still in development stage but will soon reach maturity.
Of the five wheat-producing countries monitored in the current bulletin, Morocco's wheat production decreased the most by 25% compared to 2019, mainly due to difficulties in sowing caused by persistent less rainy weather which affected the early growth of wheat, leading to the decrease of wheat cultivation and yield.
The agroclimatic conditions during the sowing and early growth stage of wheat in Egypt is generally conducive to wheat growth and development. Wheat production increased slightly by 5%. As the world's largest wheat importer, the increase of wheat production in Egypt might result in lower import this year. Wheat production in India and Pakistan is generally self-sufficient. Although parts of India and Pakistan are affected by desert locust disasters, the impact is concentrated in the arid areas of northwest India and the lower Indus River basin in Pakistan, with limited impact on the main wheat-producing areas of the Ganges Basin. Wheat production in both countries increased by 4%. Also, the areas affected by desert locust are currently in dry season which will prevent the reproduction and further spread of desert locusts. In Ethiopia, only parts of Oromiya Zone of Amhara Region are affected by desert locust disasters during wheat harvesting period. Crop losses have been very limited and national wheat production merely dropped by 1% compared to 2019.
Brazil has overtaken the United States as the world's largest soybean producer in 2019. Argentina's soybean production ranks as the fourth in the world. CropWatch expects soybean production in Brazil and Argentina to increase by 2% and 1% in 2020, reaching 103.16 million tons and 51.93 million tons, respectively. Soybean production in Brazil and Argentina has increased by about 2.88 million tons that will only have a good effect on the global supply. The international soybean market is therefore expected to remain stable.
Table 5.1 Preliminary prediction of 2020 production in thousands tonnes for selected southern hemisphere countries and early crops in the subtropical regions. Δ% stands for the change in % compared with the corresponding season in 2019.