Crop Production in Greece and Italy.

(Aug 18, 2017)

Italy and Greece are distinctive and unusual within the European Union (EU) because they both share a Mediterranean climate which enables production of a variety of crops not possible further north on the continent. Greece produces nearly 80 percent of the EU’s cotton and 9 percent of its rice. Italy produces over 50 percent of the EU’s rice and 45 percent of its soybeans. For other commodities, Italy is typically the EU’s fourth-largest corn producer and the fifth- largest wheat producer, including a significant amount of durum wheat for pasta. Greece also produces corn and wheat, but less than in Italy. Both countries have a hot and dry climate so dependence on irrigation is substantial during summer months. In June 2017, analysts from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service traveled to Greece and Italy to assess and examine crop conditions and conduct interviews with farmers and agricultural specialists. The team traveled along the agriculturally intensive Po River Valley of northern Italy and through several primary agricultural regions of Greece.

An Atypical Canadian Summer: Hot and Dry in the Prairies, Cool and Wet in the East.

(Aug 16, 2017)

Analysts from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) conducted crop-assessment travel in Canada in July, meeting with farmers, cooperatives, non-profit organizations and government officials. The team examined the shifting agricultural patterns in Canada and assessed the potential crop-production impacts of the heat and dryness in the Canadian Prairies and the cool, wet weather in Eastern Canada (see Figure 1). The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s MAGE mobile application was used to collect field data that will enable FAS analysts to create an in-season crop mask to improve area-estimation methods.

North Korea: Warning Signs of Drought for the Rice Crop.

(Aug 14, 2017)

Rice is one of the major staple foods in North Korea. Rice paddies account for the majority of arable land, especially in the eastern provinces. Rice production is concentrated in the regions of North Pyongyang, South Pyongyang, and South Hwanghae. The major rice growing season is May through October, and the optimum sowing window is during May and June. The analysis of a variety of crop-condition indicators derived from remote sensing (including precipitation, drought monitors, and vegetation indices), suggests that North Korea is experiencing early-season drought. Due to the lack of reliable agricultural data from North Korea, USDA relies on these remote-sensing tools to qualitatively monitor crop conditions and assess the impact of crop stress for North Korea’s crops. USDA estimates 2017/18 North Korea rice production at 1.6 million metric tons (milled basis).

China: 2017/18 Cotton Production Outlook.

(Aug 11, 2017)

China’s major summer season crops include rice, corn, soybeans, peanuts, and cotton. The optimum planting window for these crops is typically April through May. Cotton planting started in April and continued through May, and the majority of the crops are now at various stages of early growth and development. The majority (approximately 52 percent) of China’s cotton crop is grown in Xinjiang province; the rest is grown in the yellow river basin (Hebei, Shandong, and Jiangsu) and in the North China plain. Moisture conditions have been generally favorable across the country. Early in the season the major growing regions received average to above-average rainfall, resulting in favorable conditions for planting and early plant growth. In the Yellow River Basin Plain and in North China, precipitation for the months of April and early May was generally normal with some localized dryness. In Xinjiang province, however, the cotton crop is mostly irrigated and early crop conditions are favorable. The graph below depicts satellite-derived vegetation index or NDVI (normalized difference vegetation indices) over the major cotton growing prefecture of Aksu in Xinjiang province, and indicates favorable crop growth and potentially higher yield.

Ukraine: Winter Wheat Conditions Deteriorate in Central and West but Remain Good in t.

(Jun 21, 2017)

Unfavorable weather has reduced yield prospects for winter wheat in north-central and western Ukraine. Persistent dryness, coupled with below-normal temperatures during April and mid-May, hampered crop development and severely reduced crop vigor in western Ukraine, as indicated by satellite-derived vegetation indices (the normalized difference vegetation index, or NDVI). Although wheat yields in the drier areas will likely be substantially reduced, the lower production could be largely offset by the high potential yields in southern Ukraine where weather was conducive for winter-crop development. The NDVI map highlights the striking difference between conditions in southern Ukraine compared to conditions to the north and west. USDA estimates 2017/18 Ukraine wheat yield at 3.79 metric tons per hectare, down 9 percent from last year’s record but 5 percent above the 5-year average. Production is forecast at 25.0 million metric tons, down 1.8 million from last year