Estimated at second-highest harvest on record, says FAO report
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ first forecast for world wheat production in 2013 stands at 690 million metric tons, representing an increase of 4.3 percent from the 2012 harvest and the second largest crop on record after that of 2011, according to the organization’s latest report.
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 parts in 2012, notably the Russian Federation. Aggregate plantings in the EU are estimated to be 3 percent higher and weather conditions have been generally favorable so far. Elsewhere in Europe, prospects are satisfactory in the Russian Federation: although winter plantings have decreased, this is expected to be more than offset by an increase in the spring wheat area, and assuming yields recover from 2012’s drought-reduced levels, output is forecast to increase sharply. Also in Ukraine, a large recovery in wheat output is forecast as the winter wheat area recovered from 2012’s reduced level and winter conditions have been generally satisfactory.
In North America, the outlook in the U.S. is less favorable than among the other major wheat-producing countries: although good precipitation in February has greatly improved the outlook in previously drought-affected winter wheat areas, it is likely too late for the stressed crops to make a full recovery. Thus, despite an estimated 1 percent increase in winter wheat plantings and the likelihood that spring plantings will at least match 2012’s level, if not expand slightly, aggregate wheat output is tentatively forecast to decrease by about 6 percent to 58 million metric tons, below the average of the past five years.
In Asia, prospects for the 2013 wheat crop, to be harvested from April, are mostly favorable in the main producing countries, according to the FAO report. In China, higher minimum purchase prices have encouraged farmers to maintain 2012’s good area and favorable weather conditions have benefited crops and early official forecasts point to a record wheat output of some 121 million metric tons in 2013. Also in Pakistan, a record wheat output is forecast reflecting larger plantings and good yield prospects. In India, plantings are around 2012’s good level and another bumper crop is in prospect although forecast slightly below the 2012 record because of limited rainfall in some important producing areas.
In North Africa, early prospects for the 2013 wheat crops are good. Soil moisture was reported to be ample for planting last autumn and winter conditions have favored crop development.
In the southern hemisphere, the major wheat crops will be sown later in 2013. In Australia, where planting starts from April, early prospects are uncertain: tight supplies and strong prices are expected to provide incentive to farmers to increase plantings, but soil moisture reserves have been severely depleted by the summer heat wave in some major producing areas and much more precipitation is needed to ensure satisfactory planting conditions.