Global crop production review, 2006

Prepared by the Joint Agricultural Weather Facility of the United States
Department of Agriculture


The following is an annual review of regional crop production, comparing 2006 with the previous year. For both the northern and southern hemisphere, these summaries reflect growing-season weather for crops that were harvested in the calendar year of 2006. For most countries, changes in production for 2006 are based on crop estimates released by the United States Department of Agriculture in February 2007.

Wheat and coarse grain

In 2006, world wheat production declined 5 per cent from 2005. Wheat production increased in Canada, Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan, and Morocco. Wheat production declined in the USA, most of the major producing countries in the European Union, Romania, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Australia, Argentina and Brazil. Wheat production was unchanged in Turkey. The country-level changes in 2006 wheat production from 2005 are shown in Figure 1. World coarse grain production was virtually unchanged in 2006. Production increases in China, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Mexico, Brazil and Australia offset production declines in the USA, Canada, major producing countries in the European Union, Romania, Turkey, India, Argentina and South Africa.

Figure 1 — Country-level change in 2006 wheat production from 2005 (USDA)

In the USA, wheat production (winter, spring and durum) declined 14 per cent from 2005. Production totals for all classes of wheat were down significantly. Durum production was down 47 per cent from 2005 due to the northern Plains’ drought and an untimely summer heat wave. Spring wheat production was also reduced by the drought, falling 9 per cent from the previous year. Growing conditions for winter wheat were highly variable, with the overall crop production down 13 per cent from 2005.

The soft red winter wheat crop experienced favourable conditions, which boosted production 26 per cent above last year. However, hard red winter and white winter wheat production was down 27 and 13 per cent, respectively, compared with 2005, mainly due to drought. Conditions were particularly harsh on the southern Plains, which led to the lowest hard red winter wheat production in Texas and Oklahoma since 1971. Meanwhile, US corn production was down 5 per cent from 2005. However, the Corn Belt largely escaped the heat and drought that affected areas farther west and, as a result, the US corn yield was the second-highest on record, behind 2004.

In Canada, wheat production rose 2 per cent, as higher total area offset modest declines in yield. Conditions were generally favourable in the spring and summer for Ontario’s winter wheat. In the Prairies, weather conditions favoured spring wheat emergence and establishment in the spring, but a late summer drying trend hastened crop maturity at the expense of yield potential. However, the dryness reportedly resulted in grain of particularly good milling quality. Barley production was down about 20 per cent due to a combination of lower yield and reduced acreage. Corn production was down slightly from 2005 due to a small decline in yield.

In the European Union (EU-25), gains in wheat production in western growing areas were more than offset by reductions in central and eastern Europe (total production down 4 per cent). On the heels of historic drought on the Iberian Peninsula during the 2004/2005 growing season, favourable autumn and winter precipitation vastly improved crop yields in Spain and Portugal. In particular, winter grain production increased more than 44 per cent in Spain, despite an early end to the rainy season. Meanwhile, favourably wet conditions during the autumn and winter months in central and eastern growing areas gave way to untimely dryness and record-setting summer heat from France eastward into Poland. Consequently, wheat production decreased in France (3 per cent), Germany (5 per cent), and Poland (19 per cent), despite adequate early-season moisture. In Hungary, wheat production declined by more than 14 per cent, largely due to the effects of an outbreak of extreme cold in late January when the region lacked a protective snow cover. In Romania, wheat production declined nearly 20 per cent in response to excessive rain during the autumn, which hampered harvesting and reduced yields.  

Mid-summer heat and dryness also caused coarse grain production to fall over 3 per cent in the EU-25. In Poland and the Czech Republic, double digit decreases of 18 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, were largely attributed to excessive heat during the crop’s temperature-sensitive reproductive and filling stages of development. Heat also adversely impacted coarse grains in Hungary, where production dropped 5 per cent. Corn production fell nearly 4 per cent. Additionally, corn production declined in France (10 per cent), Italy (8 per cent), and Poland (38 per cent) due to an untimely heat wave coupled with bouts of drier-than-normal summertime weather. Likewise, barley production fell across much of the EU-25, with reductions 10 per cent or greater in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In contrast, barley production increased 89 per cent in Spain, with more modest gains noted in France (1 per cent) and Germany (3 per cent). 

For the second consecutive year, unseasonably wet weather across south-eastern Europe hindered the region’s coarse grain production. In Romania, total coarse grain and corn production were down 18 and 17 per cent, respectively, although some of this decline was attributed to a reduction in acreage. Corn acreage decreased 12 per cent, while total coarse grain area dropped 13 per cent from 2005.

In the Russian Federation, wheat production fell 6 per cent in 2006 due to unfavourable weather in major winter wheat producing areas. Winter wheat is mostly grown in the Southern District and southern areas of the Central and Volga Districts. Persistent dryness during the 2005 autumn planting season adversely impacted winter wheat emergence and establishment in many areas. Planting likely occurred beyond optimum dates, as farmers waited for rain to improve emergence prospects. Furthermore, in partial response to the unusual dryness, less acreage was planted to winter wheat compared to the previous year. In December, unseasonably mild weather provided favourable overwintering conditions for dormant winter wheat but left crop areas void of protective snow cover.

In January, frigid air from Siberia pushed westward into winter wheat areas during the second half of the month, threatening the crop. During the initial onset of the bitter cold, 17-20 January, snow cover was shallow in the western and southern parts of the Central Region and in an area that extended from the northern portion of the Southern District northward into parts of the Volga District, leaving winter grains in these areas highly vulnerable to the extreme cold. Lowest temperatures reported during the cold wave ranged from -41°C to -20°C, causing significant freeze damage in areas that lacked sufficient snow cover. Overall, winterkill was reportedly 21 per cent for winter grains, well above the 10-year average of 13 per cent and the previous winter’s 8 per cent winterkill. Despite favourable weather in the spring, the adverse autumn and winter weather ultimately led to a 19 per cent decline in winter wheat production.

Regarding spring wheat, most of the spring wheat crop is grown from the Volga District eastward through the Siberia District. A late arrival of spring warmth, especially in eastern growing areas, slowed early planting activities. However, the combination of warmer weather and intermittent dryness during the second half of May allowed fieldwork to accelerate. During the growing season, mild weather and above-normal precipitation at key stages of crop development boosted yield prospects, especially in the Volga and Urals Districts. As a result, spring wheat production increased 15 per cent. Increases in planted area for spring barley and oats along with favourable weather led to a 9 per cent rise in coarse grain production. Historically, spring barley and oats account for 70 per cent of coarse grain production. The combination of dryness during autumn planting and severe winter weather in major winter rye-producing areas in the Central and Volga Districts resulted in a 17 per cent decline in 2006 rye production. For corn, although periods of hot, dry weather in early August lowered yield prospects, an expansion in planted area more than offset the lower yields, resulting in a 13 per cent increase in corn production.


Figure 2 — Total September precipitation (mm) in Ukraine from 1978 to 2005

In Ukraine, most of the wheat grown consists of winter varieties. In September 2005, the driest weather in at least the past 28 years prevailed throughout Ukraine (Figure 2). The dryness delayed winter wheat planting beyond the optimal time and caused a significant reduction in planted acreage compared to the previous year. In many areas, crop emergence was likely delayed until the middle of October, when a change in the weather pattern brought widespread showers to many areas. Wet weather continued through November and was accompanied by near-to above-normal temperatures, improving conditions for winter wheat emergence and establishment. In December, unseasonably mild weather provided favourable overwintering conditions for crops.

On 19 January, bitterly cold weather began spreading over the country. Simultaneously, a storm system spread light-to-moderate snow across these areas, providing a highly variable snow cover (Figure 3). Winter grains likely sustained some freeze damage in areas that lacked a sufficient snow cover. Reports indicated that winterkill totalled 7 per cent, compared to 3 per cent the previous year. Although mild weather and periodic showers in May and June favoured winter wheat that progressed through the reproductive and filling stages of development, the crop was unable to recover fully from the adverse weather in the autumn. As a result, winter wheat production declined 26 per cent due to a sharp decline in area and lower yield. Coarse grain production was up 6 per cent from 2005. Production for spring barley increased 31 per cent, while corn production declined 10 per cent. For spring barley, an increase in planted area along with mostly favourable weather during the growing season boosted production. For corn, adverse heat and dryness in August lowered yield prospects for the crop as it progressed through the grain formation and filling stages of development.


Figure 3 — Extreme minimum temperatures (°C) reported 17-25 January 2006. In addition, snow depth analysis for 24 January 2006 (estimated by the Global Forecast System) is depicted by the light (5-10 cm) and dark (greater than 10 cm) shading.

In Kazakhstan, spring grains (mostly spring wheat and spring barley) account for most of the total grain production. Furthermore, most of the wheat grown in the country is of a spring variety, while spring barley typically accounts for about 80 per cent of Kazakhstan’s coarse grain production. Periods of dry weather helped spring grain planting in May, while timely rains in late June and early July boosted yield prospects. Wheat production rose 23 per cent in 2006, while coarse grain production rose 20 per cent.  

In Turkey, winter wheat production remained unchanged from 2005, while barley production decreased 5 per cent. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, a reduction in area caused wheat production to decline 3 per cent, although weather conditions were mostly favourable for near-record crop yields.

In north-western Africa, a marked reversal from the extreme drought of 2005 resulted in vastly improved crop prospects across the region. In particular, Moroccan wheat production jumped over 100 per cent from the previous year, as timely and locally heavy rain maintained favourable moisture supplies. Barley production shot up 127 per cent in Morocco, while increasing a remarkable 263 per cent in Algeria.

In China, wheat production rose 6 per cent from 2005, due to ample irrigation reserves and favourable harvest weather. Higher yield, along with expanded acreage, allowed for the production increase. Favourable weather in Manchuria was somewhat offset by a drought in Sichuan, leaving corn yields generally unchanged from the previous year. However, increased acreage resulted in an overall production increase of nearly 3 per cent from 2005.

In India, wheat production slipped 1 per cent due mostly to a decrease in planted area. However, an unusually strong March storm hit primary growing areas as the crop was maturing, hampering harvesting and diminishing potentially higher yields. Indian coarse grain production also fell (1 per cent) as a result of a late arrival of the monsoon followed by a drier-than-normal August. In Pakistan, a second straight year of favourable weather resulted in a 1 per cent increase in wheat production.

In the southern hemisphere, a savage drought slashed 2006 Australian wheat and barley production 57 percent relative to 2005 levels. During the autumn, below-normal rainfall delayed winter grain planting and hampered early crop development. Rainfall returned to near normal in southern portions of Western Australia and northern New South Wales during the winter, helping winter grain establishment.  Elsewhere, however, sporadic precipitation (Figure 4) provided little additional water for vegetative winter grains, stunting crop growth. In the spring, hot weather accompanied the persistent dryness in many major growing areas. The heat and dryness was very untimely, coinciding with the reproductive to filling stages of winter grain development. The unfavourably hot, dry weather severely stressed crops, causing a rapid deterioration in crop conditions and significantly reducing yields. However, the heat and dryness did benefit maturing winter grains, favouring wheat and barley harvesting and maintaining good grain quality.


Figure 4 — Cumulative precipitation (mm) in south Australia during the 2005 and 2006 winter grain growing seasons

In South Africa, corn production plummeted 41 per cent in 2006, mainly due to a substantial drop in planted area. In addition, a small drop in yields was attributed to the unusually cool, wet summer. In Argentina, corn production fell 23 per cent due to lower harvested area and the harmful effects of a summer heat wave. Winter wheat production fell slightly from that of 2005, as a spring drought affected much of central Argentina and prevented a rebound from the previous year’s disappointing output. In Brazil, improved conditions for both summer and winter corn boosted production by about 20 per cent. However, winter wheat production fell over 50 per cent, due largely to an unusual late-season freeze that hit the major production area of Rio Grande do Sul.


World oilseed production rose 2 per cent in 2006. Oilseed production increased in the USA, most countries in the European Union, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, China, Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina, and declined in Canada and India.

In North America, US soybean production was the highest on record, 4 per cent above 2005. The arrival of rain and cooler weather in August, following a July heat wave, significantly aided the crop. In Canada, summer dryness led to a 6 per cent decline in Prairie rapeseed production. Soybean production rose about 10 per cent on the combination of higher yields and slightly higher acreage in Ontario.

In the European Union, oilseed reductions in France (7 per cent) were offset by gains across the remainder of EU-25, with a net improvement of 2 per cent over 2005. In particular, production increases were noted in Hungary (8 per cent) and the Czech Republic (14 per cent). Much of the remainder of Europe, including Romania, reported gains in oilseed production due mostly to an expansion in acreage. Rapeseed production improved nearly region-wide, reflecting an expansion area planted to rapeseed. Of the largest European rapeseed producers, only France saw a significant decrease (8 per cent) due to a late-summer heat wave.

In the Russian Federation and Ukraine, sunflower production rose 4 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively in 2006. Growing-season weather and harvest conditions were mostly favourable for sunflowers in both countries. However, there was a period of hot, dry weather in early August in major producing areas of eastern Ukraine and the Southern District in the Russian Federation that caused some stress on sunflowers in the seed formation stage. Area planted to sunflowers continued to increase in both countries.

In China, favourable weather in Heilongjiang increased soybean yields. However, a decrease in area offset the yield increase, resulting in a slight decrease in production of about 1 per cent from 2005. Rapeseed production fell by 4 per cent due to a decrease in both yield and area.

In India, total oilseed production was largely unchanged from 2005, as a minor decline in total acreage was offset by slightly higher yields. Winter rapeseed production was down 9 per cent from last year, primarily due to a 8 per cent decrease in area. For the third consecutive year, summer oilseed production was mixed. Soybean production (up 16 per cent) was not adversely affected by the slow start to the 2006 monsoon season, and late-planted crops benefited from timely rains in late June. On the other hand, peanut (groundnut) production was down 18 per cent due to flooding in key groundnut areas of Gujarat, as well as a 13 per cent drop in total peanut acreage.


Figure 5 — Cumulative precipitation (mm) for Parana, Brazil


In Argentina, soybean production rose almost 4 per cent in 2006, as higher area offset a decline in yield caused by hot summer weather. In Brazil, soybean production rose 4 per cent, as higher yield offset a 4 per cent reduction in area. Parts of southern Brazil, notably Parana, experienced a third year of unseasonable dryness during the growing season but conditions were overall better than the previous year (Figure 5). In addition, farmers in the centre-west were reportedly successful in limiting potential damage from Asian Rust.


World rice production remained virtually unchanged in 2006. Likewise, rice production was near 2005 levels in most of South-East Asia and India.

rice field  

In Asia, rice production was nearly identical to 2005. Rice production was virtually unchanged in both India and Pakistan, while Bangladesh noted a modest 1 per cent increase. South Asia was spared from destructive typhoons during the 2006 growing season, with  only seasonal flooding reported. A near-normal monsoon season in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines resulted in a slight increase in production in these countries. In China, yields were unchanged from last year, while a slight increase in area pushed production up about 1 per cent.


World cotton production increased 3 per cent in 2006. Cotton production increased in Turkey, India, and China  and declined in the USA, Greece, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Pakistan and Brazil.

In the northern hemisphere, US cotton production was 9 per cent below 2005’s record high. Drought reduced production potential in several key cotton-growing areas, including the southern High Plains, the Mississippi Delta and parts of the south-east. In Greece, cotton areas were hit with torrential rain as the crop approached harvest, reducing crop quality and decreasing total production almost 30 per cent. In Uzbekistan, weather conditions for the 2006 cotton crop were mostly favourable during the growing season and autumn harvest period. Despite the favourable weather, cotton production declined 3 per cent from the previous year’s exceptional crop. In China, an increase in cotton acreage, along with favourable weather during the growing season and harvest period, resulted in an 18 per cent increase in production. Turkish production rose 13 per cent due to both an increase in area and more favourable weather during the cotton harvest compared to the late-season flooding of 2005. In India, cotton production went up 9 per cent as planted acreage and yields increased. Production in Pakistan dropped slightly (2 per cent) in response to unseasonably heavy rains in southernmost growing areas as the crop reached the open-boll stage of development. 

In the southern hemisphere, Australian cotton production dipped slightly in 2006, declining approximately 7 per cent from 2005. Although rainfall was similar during the two growing seasons, a period of hot weather during the summer of the most recent growing season caused higher-than-normal evaporative losses. The heat increased irrigation requirements and likely stressed some crops, especially dryland cotton, resulting in somewhat lower yields. In Argentina, production fell slightly as higher yields failed to offset lower area. Similarly, Brazil cotton production dropped 20 per cent as improved yields were unable to offset a 27 per cent decline in acreage.

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