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Commodity Intelligence Report
July 12, 2011

TURKEY: Winter Grain Production at Near-Record Levels in 2011

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) personnel in Ankara traveled widely in the winter grain producing regions of Turkey during June to assess wheat and barley production prospects. As a result of their investigations USDA is currently forecasting 2011/12 wheat production at 18.5 million tons, up 1.1 million or 6 percent from last month and up 9 percent from last year. Barley production is forecast at 6.5 million tons, up 0.8 million or 14 percent from last month and up 10 percent from last year. Though wintergrain production was poor across much of the Middle East this year, Turkey has experienced extremely favorable growing conditions and is headed for a near-record harvest. Turkey is the region’s largest wheat and barley producer, accounting for 47 and 58 percent respectively of total production in the Middle East. Bumper crop production prospects this year will ensure that it also maintains its role as the leading grain exporter in the region.

The winter grain growing season in Turkey lasts from October through July, with some late harvesting occurring in August. The most important yield determination phases, however, occur from March-June. Spring weather conditions therefore have the most significant impacts on crop production potential and grain quality. In 2011 widespread moderate to heavy rainfall blanketed most major winter grain producing areas during the April-June period, coinciding with the most moisture sensitive growth stages of both wheat and barley. Well-above normal rainfall was received all along the Aegean coast, and throughout the south and southeast. The central Anatolian highlands, where roughly 36 percent of the national wheat crop is produced, experienced consistent above normal rainfall throughout the spring. The important southeast region by comparison, where roughly 12.5 percent of the wheat crop is grown, experienced a surge of late season rainfall which revived crop prospects and boosted crop yield potential. The prevalence of late season rainfall acted to slow crop growth and maturation, while at the same time lengthening the grain formation period. This combination of favorable late season conditions increased crop yields over wide swaths of the country. It also reportedly caused a decline in the protein content and overall grain quality in many of the provinces which received high rainfall such as Konya, Adana, Antalya, Osmaniye, Mus, and Diyarbakir.

Winter grain crop growth in Turkey normally peaks in late April to early May, when wheat and barley crops reach the flowering growth stage. However this year continuous rainfall slowed crop development, resulting in peak development occurring 3-4 weeks later. This extra month allowed for unusually lush vegetative development and ideal soil moisture as crops reached flowering, the most moisture sensitive time of the year. Satellite data from late May showed that crops all across the country had well-above average vegetative development, signaling that growing conditions were ideal and yield prospects were very high.

The vegetation index charts below, which cover two of the most important winter grain regions in Turkey, document that crop development was both well-above normal and well-above last year. It also clearly highlights the later-than-normal peak growth stage that occurred this year. Both of these characteristics signal that crop yields will be very high this year. In fact, during FAS crop travel in June farmers in a wide variety of locations were reporting record wheat and barley crop yields from the earliest harvested areas. Yellow-stripe rust was also reported in a few regions this year, a relic of last years major outbreak and the prevailing wet seasonal gorwing conditions. However, it was not reported to have caused significant damage, and likely developed too late in the growing season to substantially impact crop yield potential. Farmers were also better prepared this year with fungacides following last years serious outbreak.

With crop development at its highest levels in recent years, Turkey appears poised to achieve a bumper if not a record winter grain harvest this year. Based on satellite evidence, production prospects are high in every producing area of the country. The highest yields and grain production will likely occur in the major producing centers of Central Anatolia, Cukurova, and the Southeast – where vegetation index values are especially high relative to normal. Based on historical data (see map below) these areas form the core of the countries winter grain heartland. Given production prospects are strong in all of them simultaneously, the outlook at the national level is extremely favorable this year.

Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.

For more information contact Michael Shean | | (202) 720-7366
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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