Thursday :: May 19, 2011

2011 Grain Harvest Outlook

by Mary

2010 was not a great year for the world's wheat harvest with floods in Canada, the fire in Russia and the extensive floods in Australia.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the winter wheat harvest on the Great Plain in the US will be worse than anticipated due to the extensive drought this year. And one day later reports from Europe indicated that wheat harvests will suffer due to the driest weather in decades.

Indeed, 2011 harvest forecasts around the world are problematic due to droughts or the unseasonably wet and cold spring.

Less than a year after the worst drought in a generation destroyed one-third of Russia’s wheat crop and sent global food prices surging, more bad weather is damaging fields from North America to Europe to Asia.

Corn planting in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, is advancing at half of last year’s pace because of excess rain, government data show. The Canadian Wheat Board said fields are so muddy that only 3 percent of grain has been sown, compared with 40 percent normally. At the same time, drought left the Kansas wheat crop in the worst shape since 1996, and dry spells are threatening crops in France, Western Australia and China.

As Lester Brown recently told Terry Gross the price of food is a hidden driver of global politics today. And unlike 1965 when the US had not only a surplus of grain but also unused farm land lying fallow for new crops to help out when the Indian monsoon failed, we no longer have slack in the system to make up for the failure of crops from bad weather. Today when harvests fail food prices raise disproportionately in countries that have the least ability to accommodate the raising prices.

Already 2011 appears to be trending worse than 2010 for the world grain harvests.

Mary :: 12:00 AM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!