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Prospects for global grains and oilseeds production in 2022/23

16 May 20225 min reading

The world wheat harvested area in 22/23 is projected to drop by 1% y/y, with anticipated losses in Ukraine, Morocco, China and India outweighing gains in North and South America. Linked to some difficult weather and reduced fertiliser use, yields are forecast slightly below the long-term trend, potentially limiting global production to 780m t, lower y/y.

Figures have been put together against the backdrop of the ongoing Black Sea conflict and, as such, prospects are especially tentative given a myriad of uncertainties, including outlooks for acreage and yields.

The world wheat harvested area in 22/23 is projected to drop by 1% y/y, with anticipated losses in Ukraine, Morocco, China and India outweighing gains in North and South America. Linked to some difficult weather and reduced fertiliser use, yields are forecast slightly below the long-term trend, potentially limiting global production to 780m t, lower y/y.

Early-April rains only partly alleviated concerns about dryness in northern and central Europe, including in parts of France and Germany, with more required. EU production is forecast to decline by 2% y/y, to 135.5m t. 

The early production outlook remains favourable in Russia, with good soil moisture reserves in most areas. Yields are predicted to be better than average, potentially lifting output to 82.5m t (+10%). Partly linked to difficulties accessing fields in conflict-affected eastern and southern Ukraine, winter wheat abandonment is expected to be much higher than normal. Amid significant uncertainties, production is tentatively forecast 41% lower y/y, at 19.4m t. 

Drought lingered across much of the US southern Plains. As at mid-April, 30% of the winter crop was rated in good or excellent condition (53% year ago). Spring sowings made limited progress under cold conditions, including snow in some areas, advancing to 8% complete (18%). All-wheat production in the US is provisionally forecast at 49.9m t (+12% y/y). In the run up to the spring planting season, snowmelt only partially recharged soil moisture reserves in Western Canada, where more precipitation is needed. Based on expectations for a rise in area and assuming near-average yields, total output could rebound to 31.6m t (+46% y/y).

Harvesting in India progressed quickly under very hot, dry conditions, with output now seen at a maximum of 105m t. Heavy autumn rains and flooding were problematic for planting and early crop establishment in China, with unusually poor conditions reported in some regions late last year. However, given adequate moisture reserves and limited winterkill, the outlook has stabilised in recent months. Production is forecast to drop by 2% y/y, to 135.0m t. 

Elsewhere, with extremely dry weather severely limiting acreage and yields, Morocco's crop is projected to slump to a 15-year low of 2.3m t, down 69% from the prior season's exceptional result.

At 200m ha, global maize harvested area is projected 2% lower y/y, potentially the first contraction in four seasons, with reductions in Ukraine, the US and China seen more than offsetting expected gains in South America. Assuming trend yields, cumulative production is placed at 1,197m t (-1% y/y). 

Solid prices and the temporary relaxation of greening rules for fallow land and nitrogen fixing crops could support a modest expansion in EU maize area. However, with high input costs likely to curb upside, production is projected to increase only slightly, to 71.0m t (+1% y/y).

Amid infrastructure damage and risks accessing fields in key northern growing areas, acreage in Ukraine is set to fall sharply in 2022/23. The area could drop by 40% y/y, to 3.3m ha, potentially a 12-year low. 

US harvested area is projected to fall by 4% y/y. Primarily because of unseasonably cold weather in some parts of the Corn Belt, sowings are off to a slow start. Based on trend yields, production is tentatively pegged at 376.6m t (-2% y/y). 

With some area expected to be rotated back into soyabeans in northeastern China, maize acreage is forecast to drop by 2% y/y. Assuming trend growth in yields, output is projected to be fractionally higher compared to the prior season, at 273.0m t.

Amid tight supplies and elevated values, world soyabean harvested area is predicted to expand in 2022/23, by 2%, to a peak of 133m ha. Nevertheless, with production prospects ultimately hinging on a potential recovery in yields in the southern hemisphere, the Council's projection for a record outturn, placed at 383m t (+10% y/y), is highly tentative.

In the US, where spring fieldwork has commenced, 2022/23 plantings are officially predicted to expand by 4% y/y. However, the final number could turn out different. In the period since USDA's survey-based assessment was undertaken in early March, relative new crop futures prices have moved solidly in favour of maize. However, many factors will be influential in determining the final seeding mix, including cost considerations (particularly in relation to inputs) and spring weather. Assuming trend yields, production is seen at a peak of 126.0m t (120.7m previous year).

Early indications point to a favourable monsoon for India's summer-sown crops. With the government mindful that world market supplies of vegetable oils are tight, increased state support could encourage farmers to plant more land to oilseeds, including soyabeans (+3% y/y). With trend yields, 2022/23 output is predicted at 13.1m t, little changed y/y. In China, a rebound in plantings is anticipated amid state efforts to encourage production. At 17.5m t, output is seen up by 7% y/y.

The Council tentatively predicts the sixteenth consecutive year of area expansion in Brazil, although gains may be slimmer than in the past. Based on a 1% y/y increase in sowings and a recovery in productivity, 2022/23 output is projected at a high of 140.5m t (123.5m previous year).

Join the IGC Conference on the 8th of June to hear experts address a range of relevant topics surrounding world markets for grains and oilseeds. 

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