FAO’s latest forecast for world cereal production in 2012 has been revised upward by 4 million tonnes since the February figure to 2 306 million tonnes, but still about 2 percent down from the previous year’s record.
FAO’s first forecast for world wheat production in 2013 stands at 690 million tonnes, which would be 4.3 percent up from the 2012 harvest and the second largest crop on record after that of 2011. The increase is expected mostly in Europe, driven by an expansion in area in response to high prices, and a recovery in yields from below-average levels in some countries last year, notably the Russian Federation. Aggregate plantings in the EU are estimated up by 3 percent and weather conditions have been generally favourable so far. In the Russian Federation, assuming normal spring conditions, overall wheat area is forecast to expand and yields should recover from last year’s drought-reduced levels. Also in Ukraine, a large recovery in wheat output is anticipated following increased planting and satisfactory weather. In Asia, prospects for the 2013 wheat crop, to be harvested from April, are mostly favourable in the main producing countries. New record high crops are forecast in China and Pakistan, while India is on course for another bumper harvest. By contrast, the outlook in the United States is less favourable as severe drought conditions of the past months in the Southern Plains may reduce winter survival rates and yields in affected areas. Thus, despite an estimated 1 percent increase in winter wheat plantings and the likelihood that spring plantings will at least match last year’s level, if not expand slightly, aggregate wheat output is tentatively foreseen to decrease by as much as 6 percent in 2013. In the Southern Hemisphere, the major wheat crops will be sown later this year, so the outlook at this stage is very tentative. In Australia, where planting should get underway in April, prospects are uncertain after a summer heat wave, which has depleted soil moisture reserves in some important growing regions.
Prospects for the first 2013 maize crops in South America remain generally favourable. In Brazil, following favourable precipitation, official forecasts point to a 9 percent increase in production compared to the same season’s output last year. Planting progress for the second season crop is also satisfactory under the good moisture conditions and the area is expected to increase from last year’s level. In Argentina, official estimates indicate that maize plantings have fallen some 8 percent from the record high of 2012. Nevertheless, at the estimated area, a recovery of yields after last year’s drought-reduced level could see production rise to a record high of 25.5 million tonnes. However, a dry spell from early January through early February may impact negatively on yields of late planted crops if more rains do not arrive soon. In Southern Africa, the 2013 cereal crops have developed satisfactorily overall in the large producing areas and current indications point to improved yields over last year’s average level, except in Namibia, where rains were below normal. In South Africa, the subregion’s main producer, 2013 maize production is anticipated to reach near record levels, above 13 million tonnes, if favourable weather persists.