Global Crop Production review, 2011

Prepared by USDA’s Joint Agricultural Weather Facility

The following is an annual review of regional crop production, comparing 2011 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 2011. Unless otherwise noted, statistics quoted are based on crop estimates released by the United States Department of Agriculture in February 2012.

Wheat and Coarse Grain Summary: Global wheat production rose 6 per cent in 2011. Wheat production increased in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Romania, Turkey, Morocco, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, China, India, and Australia. Production declined in the United States, France, Germany, Iran, and Argentina. The country-level changes in 2011 wheat production from 2010 are shown in Figure 1. Global coarse grain production rose 4 per cent in 2011. Production increased in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, China, Brazil, and Argentina. Coarse grain production declined in the United States, Canada, Germany, Poland, India, and South Africa.

world map wheat production 2011 Figure 1. Change in wheat production by country (2011 versus 2010).

Oilseed Summary: Global oilseed production remained virtually unchanged in 2011. Production increased in Canada, Russia, Ukraine India, China, and Brazil, and declined in the United States, the European Union, Indonesia, and Argentina.

Rice Summary: World rice production rose 3 per cent in 2011. A favorable Asian monsoon boosted rice production in China, India, Bangladesh, and most countries in Southeast Asia. Production was also up sharply in Pakistan, reflecting the recovery from last year’s flooding.

Cotton Summary: World cotton production rose nearly 6 per cent in 2011. Production increased in China, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Argentina, and Australia, and declined in the United States.


Crop Production Highlights

North America: In the United States, wheat production decreased 9 per cent from 2010, with production totals down dramatically for spring wheat and durum but up slightly for winter wheat. Winter wheat production was up 1 per cent, as generally favorable conditions in northern production areas helped to offset drought-related losses in the south-central U.S. Spring wheat production fell 26 per cent from 2010, while durum production plunged 52 per cent. On the northern Plains, spring wetness and flooding reduced the area available for spring wheat and durum planting.

U.S. Hard Red Winter (HRW) wheat production was down 23 per cent from 2010. The HRW spring growing season featured cool, wet conditions in northern areas but intensifying heat and drought in Oklahoma and Texas. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of the Texas winter wheat crop was abandoned due to drought. Farther east, Soft Red Winter (SRW) wheat production rebounded sharply during a mostly favorable growing season, up 93 per cent from 2010. Record-high SRW yields were reported in Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In the northwestern U.S., production of white winter wheat was up 12 per cent from last year.

Meanwhile, U.S. corn production was down 1 per cent from 2010, despite a 3 per cent increase in harvested area. Last year’s near-record to record-setting planting pace was followed by one of the slowest corn planting paces on record (Figure 2), leaving a portion of the crop—mainly across the southern and eastern Corn Belt—vulnerable to heat- and drought-related damage when hot, dry weather arrived during July and August. U.S. corn yield was down 4 per cent from last year.

line graphic US corn Figure 2. U.S. corn planting progress (1995-2011); Source: USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service.

U.S. soybean production attained the sixth-highest level on record, but was down 8 per cent from 2010. The decline was a combination of a lower yield (down 5 per cent from 2010) and a smaller harvested area (down 4 per cent from last year). In some soybean production areas, wet weather during planting and harvest contrasted with unfavorably hot, dry conditions during crop reproduction.

U.S. cotton production was down 13 per cent from 2010 due to a record-setting drought in the south-central U.S. Secondary factors included drought in the Southeast and a late-August strike from Hurricane Irene in North Carolina and Virginia. Nationally, cotton yield was down by 5 per cent, while harvested area was down 9 per cent. More than half (59 per cent) of the Texas cotton crop was abandoned in 2011, breaking the state record of 42 per cent set in 1998 (Figure 3). Nationally, a record-high 34 per cent of the cotton acreage was abandoned in 2011.

column graph Figure 3. Texas cotton abandonment (1980-2011); Source: USDA / National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In Canada, national total wheat production rose 9 per cent, due to an increase in both yields and area. Barley output was virtually unchanged. Significant spring flooding affected farmlands in the eastern Prairies, initially leading to reductions in planting intentions of spring wheat. However, nearly ideal conditions the remainder of the year aided spring wheat development throughout the Prairie Provinces, and harvest weather was overall favorable in both the Prairies and Ontario (winter wheat). In contrast, the warm, dry conditions favoring Ontario’s winter wheat harvest led to declines in corn production of 9 per cent from the previous year’s record.

Canadian rapeseed output jumped 11 per cent from 2010, with both area and production reaching record levels. Production of soybeans, mostly grown in Ontario, was down slightly due to lower yields caused by the untimely summer dryness. In all, total Canadian oilseed production was about 8 per cent higher than the previous year.

Mexican corn production was negatively impacted by both an unusual freeze in the main winter production areas of Sinaloa (Figure 4), and a summer drought across major rain-fed production areas of the southern plateau. As a result, total annual production fell 3 per cent from the combined losses. The Sinaloa freeze also impacted winter-grown fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers, which are produced for export.

map Figure 4. Minimum temperatures recorded in Sinaloa, Mexico, February 3-5, 2011.

European Union: In the European Union (EU-27), total wheat production increased slightly (1 per cent). For the second consecutive year, spring dryness (Figure 5) contributed to production losses in France (6 per cent) and Germany (3 per cent). In contrast, excessive early-summer rain and flooding caused quality declines in Poland. Wheat yields improved for a second straight year in Spain, where abundant spring rainfall boosted crop production by more than 14 per cent. Similarly, favorable weather led to increases in wheat production in Hungary and Romania (8 and 26 per cent, respectively). In Italy, a 6 per cent drop in production was attributed to heavy rainfall during the autumn planting season, which reduced acreage by 8 per cent.

map Figure 5. Percent of normal rainfall in Europe observed during the spring of 2011 (March 1-May 31).

Europe’s overall coarse grain production improved 6 per cent, mostly reflecting a 5 per cent increase in yields. However, rye and barley production declined due to decreases in planted acreage. Two of the EU-27’s five largest barley producers experienced declines of 12 per cent or more (Germany and France), while Spain, the United Kingdom, and Denmark countered these losses with production gains of at least 4 per cent each. Meanwhile, EU-27 corn production increased by 16 per cent courtesy of increased acreage (up 10 per cent) and improved yields (up 5 per cent). Despite spring dryness, favorable summer rainfall in southwestern France (Figure 6) contributed to a 10 per cent yield increase (production up 13 per cent). Likewise, frequent summer rain coupled with a lack of extreme heat boosted yields 3 per cent in Italy, Hungary, and Romania, with the total corn production up 12, 15, and 17 per cent, respectively. Similarly, favorable rainfall on the Iberian Peninsula boosted corn yields 13 per cent (production increased 14 per cent).

line graph Figure 6. Cumulative growing-season rainfall for corn in southwestern France.










In 2011, oilseed production in the European Union was largely unchanged as yield losses were offset by similar increases in planted area. EU-27 rapeseed production dropped 8 per cent, as unfavorably dry spring weather contributed to yield declines of almost 30 per cent in Germany. In Poland, a late-spring freeze coupled with heavy early-summer rainfall cut yields and harvested area by 13 and 5 per cent, respectively (net production loss of 17 per cent). In contrast Europe’s sunflower production jumped 17 per cent, driven largely by an increase in area (up 11 per cent), but likewise accompanied by a 5 per cent increase in yields. The EU-27’s top two sunflower producers, France and Hungary, saw yields increase by 9 per cent or more, as plentiful summer rainfall improved soil moisture for sunflower growth. Spain, Europe’s third largest sunflower producer, saw both planted area and production increase nearly 20 per cent.

Former Soviet Union: In Russia, total wheat production for 2011 shot up 35 per cent. Winter wheat was adequately protected from winterkill by a deep, persistent snowpack. Meanwhile, favorable spring and summer rainfall boosted yields, in contrast to last year’s extreme drought and damaging heat (Figure 7). Farther east, an unusually deep winter snow cover rapidly melted, allowing producers to sow spring grains in a timely fashion. Little if any excessive summertime heat in eastern Russia coupled with near-normal rainfall and favorable harvest weather contributed to a vastly improved Russian spring wheat crop. Consequently, Russia’s total wheat yield jumped 40 per cent, more than offsetting a 4 per cent drop in harvested area. Likewise, Russia’s rye production increased 81 per cent despite an 8 per cent decline in area, as a marked improvement in weather versus last year caused yields to nearly double (up 96 per cent). As with small grains, Russian coarse grain production increased across the board due to the vastly improved spring and summer growing conditions. Oat and barley production went up 66 and 103 per cent, respectively, while corn production reported gains of more than 115 per cent. Sunflower production also exhibited yield and area increases of more than 30 per cent, contributing to year-to-year production gains of 80 per cent.

line graph Figure 7. Cumulative rainfall for Russia’s Volga District (2011 versus 2010).










As with Russia, Ukraine experienced vastly improved growing-season weather versus 2010. Pockets of winterkill caused some damage, but overall beneficial winter snow cover kept losses relatively low. Early concerns over recurring drought were fueled by a drier-than-normal spring, although the largest precipitation deficits were reported in the lower-producing northern and western crop districts. By late spring and early summer, a return of wet weather allayed drought fears and boosted prospects for grains and oilseeds. Wheat production increased 31 per cent (yields up 23 per cent), while production of barley and rye rose 6 and 19 per cent, respectively. Ukraine, the world’s largest sunflower producer, saw production of the key oilseed increase more than 13 per cent, with weather-driven increases in yields (up 5 per cent) accompanied by a 7 per cent increase in harvested area. Spring dryness did have some impacts on rapeseed, which experienced only modest gains (production up 2 per cent). Unlike last year, when summer heat and drought slashed summer crop yields, favorable summer rainfall and seasonable temperatures improved corn yields (up 43 per cent), which contributed to an 89 per cent increase in production.

Elsewhere in the Former Soviet Union, winter and spring crops saw similar weather-related gains versus 2010. Belarus, the world’s third largest rye producer, saw yield increases of more than 20 per cent for both oats and rye, resulting in productions increases of 81 and 104 per cent, respectively. More notably, Kazakhstan’s spring wheat production jumped over 130 per cent versus last year – when drought and heat caused significant yield declines – to establish new record highs. Abundant spring and summer rainfall coupled with nearly ideal harvest weather resulted in yield increases of more than 140 per cent in Kazakhstan (Figure 8).

line graph Figure 8. Cumulative rainfall for central Kazakhstan (2011 versus 2010).










Cotton production in the Former Soviet Union dipped 2 per cent. Production was largely mixed, with yield-assisted production gains in Tajikistan offset by lower yields and production in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan (production decreased 20 and 9 per cent, respectively). The region’s largest cotton producer, Uzbekistan, saw minor yield losses (down 1 per cent) accompanied by a 3 per cent increase in planted area, resulting in a 2 per cent increase in production.

Middle East: In the Middle East, favorable growing conditions in the west contrasted with untimely drought in central and eastern crop districts. Turkey’s wheat and barley yields improved 15 per cent over last year, boosting production by roughly 10 per cent. Consistent rain in the fall and spring coupled with a lack of winterkill led to the pronounced yield gains. Meanwhile, persistent autumn dryness in Syria, Iraq, and Iran depleted soil moisture for winter wheat and barley growth. Consequently, grains entered the winter poorly established, and emerged in the spring in poor condition. A resumption of spring rainfall allowed for some crop recovery, although the impacts of the autumn drought were not totally reversible. As a result, wheat production dropped in Syria (down 10 per cent), Iran (11 per cent), and Iraq (15 per cent) due to yield losses of 9 to 19 per cent. Similar impacts on total barley production were also noted in all three countries (down 7 to 14 per cent). Cotton production in the region increased, due in part to abundant spring rains which recharged reservoirs and irrigation supplies. Double-digit production gains were noted in Turkey (48 per cent), Syria (22 per cent), and Iran (14 per cent).

Africa: Across northwestern Africa, wheat and barley production was mixed, although the overall favorable 3-year trend for grain production continued. In Morocco, wheat production jumped 23 per cent, with consistent season-long rainfall contrasting with last year’s dry autumn. Conversely, Algeria wheat and barley production dropped 10 per cent due to a drier-than-normal spring, which reduced yields (also down 10 per cent) as grains advanced through reproduction. Farther east, consistent, occasionally heavy rain boosted grain production in Tunisia, with wheat and barley up 58 and 172 per cent, respectively.

In South Africa, corn production fell nearly 20 per cent on declines in both yield and area. After a favorable start to the growing season, unseasonable warmth and dryness (Figure 9), contrary to what is normally expected during a La Niña season, dropped yields below 4 metric tons per hectare (3.82) for the first time since the 2007/08 season. Conditions were also reportedly unfavorable for production of sugarcane in key rain-fed growing areas.

line graph Figure 9. Cumulative rainfall for South Africa’s central corn production areas (2011 versus 2010).

Asia: In China, despite drier-than-normal conditions on the North China Plain through the winter, wheat production reached near record levels. Moisture reserves were adequate for autumn establishment, and consistent spring rainfall during reproduction and favorably dry weather during harvest boosted wheat prospects. Similar conditions in the Yangtze Valley resulted in slightly higher yields for winter rapeseed; however, due to a reduction in area, production was virtually unchanged. Rice production increased slightly in China, despite dry spring weather for early double-crop rice. More favorable moisture conditions prevailed, however, during the summer, aiding single-season and late double-crop rice output. Corn production reached record levels on increased area in Manchuria and record yields were recorded, despite some dryness and unfavorably warm weather in the northeast growing region. A reduction in soybean planted area across the northeast in favor of corn reduced production by 10 per cent from the previous year’s levels. At the same time, cotton area in China rose slightly, with nearly the entire increase taking place in Xinjiang. Because of Xinjiang’s high yields, production rose by nearly 10 per cent over 2010.

Flooding rains in Japan and South Korea resulted in a slight reduction in rice output from 2010. Tropical cyclone activity was below normal in the Northwest Pacific, with few land falling storms causing any significant damage.

In India, wheat production rose over 7 per cent from 2010 on increased area and favorably cool weather during the growing season. Rapeseed production was unchanged. The summer monsoon performed well in 2011, bringing widespread near- to above-normal rainfall to most areas. Most changes in production, however, were the result of shifts in area. Increases in soybean area helped lift production by over 12 per cent from 2010, despite poor yields. Groundnut production dropped 9 per cent due to decreased area. A significant rise in rice area boosted year to year production by over 6 per cent. Finally, cotton area expanded into lower yielding areas of central India, reducing overall yields slightly but raising production by 2 per cent.

Winter wheat production in Pakistan remained relatively unchanged from last year. However, compared with last year’s flood damaged crop in northern Pakistan, rice production increased 1.55 million metric tons. Similarly, cotton production rose over 18 per cent from last year, this in despite of damage caused by heavy rainfall in Sindh province.

Rice production in Southeast Asia remained virtually unchanged on generally seasonable rainfall and minimal damage from tropical cyclones. Additionally, the production remained steady despite widely reported flooding in Thailand. The flooding ― as a result of releases from northern reservoirs and dams (Figure 10) ― occurred on fallow land with indications that lost production would be offset by increases in dry season acreage.

map Figure 10. MODIS depiction of flooding in Southeast Asia (November 3, 2011).










South America: A substantial portion of the region experienced anomalous weather patterns due to the existence of La Niña throughout the summer growing season. In Argentina, periods of untimely dryness and warmth helped to lower yield potential of some vulnerable crops (Figure 11). However, coarse grain production rose about 7 per cent from the previous season, as substantial increases in area offset drought-related reductions in yield. Corn yields fell about 25 per cent from the previous year’s record, offsetting a more than 30 per cent increase in area and resulting in a 3 per cent reduction from the previous year’s production. Other, less drought-sensitive crops, including sorghum and barley, posted gains in production, offsetting the losses to corn. Production of Argentina’s wheat, which was harvested through the early part of 2011, jumped more than 30 per cent on record yields as crops developed under very favorable conditions before the onset of the summer drought.

line graph Figure 10. MODIS depiction of flooding in Southeast Asia (November 3, 2011).

Argentine soybean production fell 10 per cent from the previous season’s record levels due to lower yields and slightly lower area. In contrast, cotton production rose nearly 30 per cent as a large increase in harvested area offset modest declines in yield.

Unlike Argentina, farmers in Brazil experienced mostly favorable weather conditions, following a late start to the summer rainy season. Corn production rose slightly from the previous season as increases in area for both main-season and winter-grown (safrinha) portions of the crop offset modest declines in yield. Wheat production rose more 15 per cent as record yields more than offset a 10 per cent reduction in acreage. As in Argentina, wheat harvests lingered into the early part of 2011.

For the second consecutive season, Brazilian soybean production reached record levels, jumping 9 per cent to 75.5 million metric tons. This was a result of both record area (24.2 million hectares) and yield (3.12 metric tons per hectare) as nearly all major production areas enjoyed favorable growing conditions for most of the season upon the arrival of seasonal rains. Cotton output jumped more than 60 per cent due to a substantial increase in harvested area.

Australia: Following record production in 2010, Australian wheat production moved even higher in 2011, increasing 1 per cent. Barley production fell short of a record but increased 4 per cent relative to 2010 production levels. For the second consecutive year, the wheat belt experienced near ideal weather throughout most of the growing season. In May and June, periods of rain and sun favored winter grain planting and aided early crop development. During the winter and spring, near- to above-normal rainfall and relatively cool weather benefited vegetative, reproductive, and filling winter grains. During the harvest period, occasionally heavy rain in western (Figure 12) and northeastern Australia slowed fieldwork and caused some reductions in grain quality. Harvesting progressed with little delay in southeastern Australia, where near-normal rainfall favored fieldwork and helped maintain grain quality.

line graph Figure 12. Cumulative rainfall for central farming areas of Western Australia (2011 versus 2010).

Australian cotton production surged higher in 2011, jumping 137 per cent relative to 2010 production levels. Nearly continuous, heavy rains during the spring and summer saturated soils and filled many reservoirs to their highest levels in nearly a decade. The La-Niña driven wet and relatively cool weather pattern was overall beneficial for dry land and irrigated cotton development, but locally extreme rainfall caused severe flooding in some areas.

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