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Rains improve grain prospects on Korean peninsula: USDA
WASHINGTON ,Following is an update on grain crop conditions in North and South Korea issued on Monday by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Agriculture Department.
Above-normal rainfall since March provided favourable moisture for 2003/04 winter crops and newly-planted summer crops in North and South Korea.
Rainfall amounts have been similar to last year and much higher than 2001, when the Korean peninsula suffered from a severe spring drought.
Warm temperatures spurred the growth of winter crops and aided summer crop planting and germination.
Recent showers have improved moisture conditions in the North and maintained high moisture levels in the South. Crop prospects are currently favourable.
It was drier than normal in fall 2002 when the 2003/04 winter wheat and barley crops were planted in North Korea, but precipitation was adequate for planting and drought was not a major problem.
The weather was seasonably dry and cold during the winter. Temperatures were warmer than normal from January onward, and winter crops emerged from dormancy 1 to 2 weeks ahead of schedule.
Timely showers and mild temperatures in early March benefited vegetative winter crops and provided good moisture for spring planting (spring wheat and barley, rapeseed, and potatoes).
Moderate to heavy rain in April covered major crop areas in North and South Korea, boosting moisture supplies for all crops.
Drier weather in May was favourable for filling/maturing winter crops and summer crop planting across the Peninsula.
The dryness may have stressed non-irrigated crops in southern and eastern North Korea, but soaking rain after June 10 significantly improved moisture levels and brought seasonal rainfall back up to normal.
In the South, a tropical storm in late May dumped very heavy rain along the southeast coast and caused local flooding, especially in the Puson region.
Mostly dry weather in early June has been ideal for rice development, but additional flooding is possible if wetter-than-normal weather returns in June and July.
As of USDA's latest official statistics released June 11, 2003, North Korea's 2003/04 winter grain (wheat/barley) crop is estimated at 180,000 tons, down slightly from last year.
Area is unchanged this year at an estimated 95,000 hectares. The forecast yield of 1.9 tons per hectare is down slightly from last year, but higher than the 5-year average.
The North Korean government has encouraged the expansion of winter crops to improve total grain production. In South Korea, the area and production of barley and other non-rice grain is expected to be about the same as last year.
North Korean corn production for 2003/04 is estimated at 1.6 million tons, unchanged from last year.
Corn accounts for slightly more than half of North Korea's total grain output and is used primarily as a food grain. Corn area is estimated at 500,000 hectares, unchanged from last year.
Area has been declining in recent years as the government encouraged farmers to plant a wider variety of crops.
The forecast yield of 3.2 tons per hectare is above the 5-year average. The yield forecast is based on generally favourable planting weather and assumes normal weather for the rest of the season.
The trend in North Korea's corn yields has been flat for several years, but efforts are being made to introduce higher-yielding varieties and better farming techniques.
In contrast, South Korea is forecast to produce only 70,000 tons of corn in 2003/04, a small fraction of its total grain production and domestic demand: South Korea imported an estimated 9.0 million tons of corn in 2002/03, almost all for feed and industrial use.
USDA's initial 2003/04 rice production estimates for North and South Korea will be released on July 11, 2003.
Last year, North Korea harvested an estimated 1.5 million tons of milled rice from 575,000 hectares.
Rice area has dropped in recent years due to flood damage to cropland and the irrigation system, water shortages, and the increased planting of alternative crops in former paddy fields.
The South Korean government announced earlier this year that it would donate 200,000 tons of fertilizer to North Korea for humanitarian reasons, while an additional 60,000 tons of fertilizer has been pledged by the European Union.
MGR Archive 26.6.2003
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