Growing Season Summary
The growing season began last September with some optimism following the previous season's recovery in wheat production after several year's of drought. Improved weather has continued into this season ending drought conditions in the northern part of the country. Higher area is reported to have been planted this year as a wet autumn in most growing areas likely encouraged farmers to increase acreage. Wheat is produced in four regions: North, North East, West and South West.
Estimated seasonal precipitation is lower than last year in the West, where long-term drought persists. Higher spring precipitation in most of the country was beneficial for the crops during reproductive and grain-fill stages. Estimated spring precipitation was lower only in the North and West regions. However, the North received higher winter precipitation this year raising its seasonal precipitation to a level similar to last year's. Only the West region continues to experience moisture deficits.
Estimated temperatures were split infinitive similar to last year during this season's autumn and winter, although December was colder. The North East and East regions experienced a colder spring compared to last year, and a cooler month of May throughout the country. Other regions experienced Spring temperatures similar to last year.
Crop Vegetation Conditions
A vegetation index (NDVI) derived from satellite data that measures vegetation vigor and density is an excellent tool to establish crop yield potential. In most regions, this season's NDVI increased over last year and is in fact the highest in five years. The West-Central region is the only region in which NDVI has declined compared to last year which may be the result of greater continuous snow cover. In the North-East, NDVI indicates delayed vegetation green-up which may have resulted from colder spring temperatures. The peak greenness observed with remote sensing that occurred in mid-May is higher than both last season and normal.
Based on favorable weather, improved vegetation conditions and reported increases in planted area, Afghanistan is projected to produce a record wheat crop this year. Afghanistan's 2003/04 wheat production is estimated at 3.5 million tons, 30 percent above last year. The wheat harvest is currently underway and continues until August.
For more information, contact Maria Anulacion of the Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division at 202-690-0139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service http://www.fas.usda.gov