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November 2018 CropWatch bulletin (Vol. 18, No. 4)

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The November CropWatch Bulletin is based primarily on current remote sensing data in addition to comprehensive and spatially accurate reference data about crops and their management. The scope is global and comprehensive. Focusing on July to October 2018, chapters cover global, national, and regional agroclimatic conditions and the condition of crops that were growing or harvested during this time. For China, the bulletin presents crop production, crop condition for each of seven major agro-ecological zones, the regional impacts of pests and diseases as well as trade prospects (import/export) of major crops. The focus section reports on food production estimates, recent disaster events with an impact on agriculture, and the possibility of an El Niño event.
Key messages from the report:


The assessment of current bulletin is based mainly on remotely sensed data. It covers prevailing weather conditions, including extreme factors, at different spatial scales, starting with global patterns in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 focuses on agro-climatic and agronomic conditions in major production zones in all continents. Chapter 3 covers the major agricultural countries that, together, make up at least 80% of production and exports (the “core countries”) while chapter 4 zooms into China. Special attention is paid to the major producers of maize, rice, wheat, and soybean. The bulletin then presents a global production estimate for crops harvested throughout 2018 (Chapter 5.1), revised from our second estimate published in August. This first part of the report includes the cover, table of contents, abbreviations, a short overview of the different sections of the bulletin and executive summary.

Chapter 1. Global agroclimatic patterns

Chapter 1 describes the CropWatch Agroclimatic Indicators (CWAIs) rainfall (RAIN), temperature (TEMP), and radiation (RADPAR), along with the agronomic indicator for potential biomass (BIOMSS) in sixty-five global Monitoring and Reporting Units (MRU). Rainfall, temperature, and radiation indicators are compared to their average value for the same period over the last fifteen years (called the “average”), while BIOMSS is compared to the indicator’s average of the recent five years. Indicator values for all MRUs are included in Annex A table A.1. For more information about the MRUs and indicators, please see Annex C and online CropWatch resources at www.cropwatch.com.cn.

Chapter 2. Crop and environmental conditions in major production zones

Chapter 2 presents the same indicators—RAIN, TEMP, RADPAR, and BIOMSS— as those used in Chapter 1, and combines them with the agronomic indicators—cropped arable land fraction (CALF), maximum vegetation condition index (VCIx), minimum vegetation health index (VHIn) , and cropping intensity index (CI)—to describe crop condition in six Major Production Zones (MPZ) across all continents. For more information about these zones and methodologies used, see the quick reference guide in Annex C as well as the CropWatch bulletin online resources at www.cropwatch.com.cn.

Chapter 3. Core countries

Chapter 1 has focused on large climate anomalies that sometimes reach the size of continents and beyond. The present section offers a closer look at individual countries, including the 41 countries that together produce and commercialize 80 percent of maize, rice, wheat, and soybean. As evidenced by the data in this section, even countries of minor agricultural or geopolitical relevance are exposed to extreme conditions and deserve mentioning, particularly when they logically fit into larger patterns.

Chapter 4. China

After a brief overview of the agro-climatic and agronomic conditions in China over the reporting period (section 4.1), Chapter 4 presents an updated estimate of national winter crop production (4.2) and describes the situation by region, focusing on the seven most productive agro-ecological regions of the east and south: Northeast China, Inner Mongolia, Huanghuaihai, Loess region, Lower Yangtze, Southwest China, and Southern China (4.3). Section 4.4 presents the results of ongoing pests and diseases monitoring, while sections 4.5 and 4.6 describe trade prospects (import/export) of major crops (4.5) and an updated outlook for domestic prices of maize, rice, wheat and soybean (4.6). Additional information on the agro-climatic indicators for agriculturally important Chinese provinces are listed in table A.11 in Annex A.

Chapter 5. Focus and perspectives

Building on the CropWatch analyses presented in chapters 1 through 4, this chapter presents initial CropWatch food production estimates for 2018 (section 5.1), as well as sections on recent disaster events (section 5.2), and an update on El Niño (5.3).

Annex A. Agroclimatic indicators

Tables in this Annex provide additional information about the agroclimatic indicators—RAIN, TEMP, and RADPAR—as well as BIOMSS for the various CropWatch spatial units. Those units include the Monitoring and Reporting Units (MRU); the thirty-one main producing and exporting countries; and regions or provinces within large countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Kazakhstan, Russia, and the United States; and China.

Annex B. 2018 Production estimates

Annex B includes tables with 2018 CropWatch production estimates for Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, and the United States.

Annex C. Quick reference guide to CropWatch indicators, spatial units and methodologies

Annex C presents a brief overview of the CropWatch indicators and spatial units (including the MRUs, MPZs, countries, and sub-national agro-ecological zones), along with a description of the CropWatch production estimation methodology and methodology to determine the severity of the occurrence.
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