This year's winter grain crops, consisting of wheat and barley, are currently being harvested. These crops were planted from September through mid December 2002. Wheat and barley are generally harvested in May and June, beginning in the south-central areas and ending in the north. Crop conditions this year are are improved over last year.
Growing Season Summary
In the northern growing areas, estimated rain during autumn planting and spring was similar to last year. However, a dry winter lowered cumulative rainfall for the season slightly below last year. December was colder than normal and cool temperatures during early spring delayed crop growth. Timely spring rains and warmer-than-normal temperatures in early April were beneficial for crop development. Estimated rainfall in Ninawa, which produces about one-third of total wheat and barley, was above normal in March and April.
In the south and central growing areas, above-normal rainfall during autumn planting may have encouraged farmers to plant more area. Crops in this part of the country depend on irrigation supplied by major rivers. Rainfall in Turkey, where the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers originate, was plentiful during winter and spring. This increased potential water supplies for irrigation, although actual river flows and reservoir levels in Iraq are unknown. Temperatures have been near normal for most of the season except in December, which was colder than normal.
PECAD's crop stage model of rainfed wheat indicates that this season's crops were slightly delayed in development compared to last year in the northern governorates of Dahuk and Ninawa, By the beginning of May, the crops in the southern portions of the rainfed region were entering the waxy ripe stage. As of June 10, the model indicated that the wheat crop throughout the north had reached waxy ripe stage except in Dahuk, in the northernmost part of the country.
The irrigated crops in the south-central areas are generally more advanced in stage than rainfed crops in the north and are harvested earlier.
Crop conditions in terms of vegetation vigor and density (indicated by NDVI vegetation index values derived from satellite data) are generally similar to or better than last year. In the northern areas, NDVI was higher than last year in parts of Ninawa, Arbil, At Tamin and As Sulaymaniyah governorates. These were the top four wheat producers, according to 1991 GOI data. NDVI profiles for the central-southern growing areas do not reveal significant differences from last year.
Wetter planting conditions in the central-south and improved vegetation conditions in the north support potential increase in output over last year.
Recent field travel by USDA personnel confirmed that the crops in the northern half of the country fared well this season and were in very good condition. In Ninawa, abundant spring rainfall is reported to have raised prospects for the wheat crop. Barley harvest was well underway at the end of May. Barley is typically harvested before wheat.
Crop condition and production are continuously analyzed, re-evaluated, and published as in-country and field information become available.
For more information, contact Maria Anulacion of the Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division at 202-690-0139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.