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Romanian Spring Crops Withered by Heat and Drought

17 October 2012
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

ROMANIA - Weather damaged spring crops registered declines between 30-50 per cent as harvest finishes nearly a month earlier than normal.

Danube River terminals found the drought reduced water flow critically low in Augustearly September not as onerous as it allowed greater time to source commodities to fulfill contracts. Low river flow prevented and generally slowed commodity movement to Constanta, the country’s main Black Sea terminal port, during this period. Domestic support meant to compensate the drought effects and rising production costs provided little satisfaction to commercial producers.

Corn

Despite the promising start in May, when abundant rainfall significantly enhanced soil moisture levels, corn production deteriorated as the growing season progressed.

The hot, dry days in June-July coincided with the critical pollination period and had a clear impact on ultimate development of kernels per ear. The very dry conditions spurred variations in yields from area to another, even from one plot to another, despite the fact that farmers applied the same technology and inputs on the fields.

Farmers applying irrigation achieved 7-8 MT/HA. On non-irrigated land yields dropped below 2 MT/HA. In isolated areas, farmers who had applied water conservation practices were able to achieve relatively modest yields on non-irrigated acreage.

Timing of planting also influenced crop success. For example, corn performed better in some areas planted earlier in the spring compared to areas planted during expert defined “optimal” planting period, as pollination occurred when conditions proved more favorable.

Due to heat and dryness most corn reached maturity much earlier than normal, with harvest starting about one month early this year. Due to the unfavorable growing environment the corn crop is revised downward to 6.1 million MT in 2012, or a drop of 42 per cent as compared to the previous year.

Producers across the southern and eastern production region report lose in the 30-50 per cent range. Total production declined though acreage had expanded in the spring by 3.7 per cent, from 2.589 to 2.685 million HA. Initial harvest results show the average yield to be about 2.3 MT/HA, a fall from 4.1 MT/HA a year earlier. The Ministry of Agriculture (AgMinistry) has not released any official preliminary figures on the corn harvest to avoid creating any disturbances in the local market.

Winter Crops

Wheat production remains at 4.95 Million MT (versus 7.1 MMT in 2011) while barley production remains at 0.96 MMT (versus 1.3 MMT in 2011).

Wheat exports are expected to fall to 1.6 million MT, about 25 per cent lower than the previous year. Romania’s price competitiveness remains strong however, as in September it was awarded contracts for about 300,000 MT of wheat for Egypt.

The rapeseed crop was drastically affected by the harsh winter with, almost three quarters of the acreage replanted in the spring.

Total rapeseed acreage plunged from 360,000 HA planted in the fall to 91,000 HA by the spring. Production is estimated at 140,000 MT, versus 750,000 MT last year. Average yield was about 16 per cent lower than the excellent yields recorded in 2011.

Given the diminished supply, exports are unlikely to exceed 15 per cent of last year’s volume of 600,000 MT. Domestic crush demand will likely require some imports in order to be satisfied.

TheCropSite News Desk



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