Drought-hit Turkey forecasts wheat output drop

Turkey acknowledged the setback to its harvest prospects from poor weather, but proved less gloomy than US observers in estimating the decrease in wheat production at 10.4%.

The country's official statistics office, in its first estimates for crop production this year, forecast overall cereals production falling by 10.1%, to 33.7m tonnes.

For wheat, output was seen falling by 10.4% to 19.8m tonnes, and for barley by 12.7% to 6.9m tonnes.

Although Turkish officials are often more upbeat on grains production volumes than some other observers, such as t the US Department of Agriculture, they were this time more sanguine over the change in production too.

The USDA estimates the wheat crop at 15.0m tonnes, down 16.7% year on year, seeing the barley harvest at 5.8m tonnes, a drop of 21%.

Drought damage

Turkey's production prospects have been set back by drought in many regions, but particularly the central area responsible for most of the country's production, where many farmers ploughed in their crop rather than go to the expense of harvesting it.

Temperatures hit record highs, for the time of year, throughout Turkey in January and February, while low soil moisture delayed crop germination, and a late frost, in early April, added to crop setbacks.

For markets, Turkey's setback is particularly significant as the country is a major grains importer, although much is for processing for pasta and flour for re-export.

Trade impact

Indeed, the Turkish grain board, the TMO, this week issued a tender to purchase up to 190,000 tonnes of milling wheat and up to 100,000 tonnes of feed barley.

Turkey's government last month authorised the TMO to purchase 4.2m tonnes of wheat, barley, rice and corn at a zero customs duty.

The country will import a record 5.50m tonnes of wheat alone in 2014-15, the USDA believes, a 31% rise year on year, and ranking Turkey sixth in the league of world importers, behind the likes of Algeria, Brazil and Egypt.

Apricot slump

The Turkish statistics office also forecast a drop of 11.1% to 450,000 tonnes in chick pea production, although lentil output will rise by 1.3m tonnes to 400,000 tonnes.

Vegetables production will rise by 1.3% to 28.8m tonnes.

However, tobacco output will tumble by 22% to 70,000 tonnes, and fruit production by 4.5% to 17.4m tonnes, led by an 18.4% drop in the apple harvest, and a 55% slump in apricots.

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