Republic of Korea

GIEWS Country Brief: Republic of Korea 23-December-2020



• Area planted with 2021 minor wheat and barley crop estimated close to average level

• Below-average paddy production estimated in 2020

• Cereal import requirements in 2020/21 marketing year forecast above five-year average

Area planted with 2021 minor winter crops estimated close to average level

Planting of the 2021 wheat and barley crops, for harvest next June, concluded in November. The above‑average June‑September monsoon rains supported soil moisture content and benefitted planting operations and crop germination.

The production of the current season will depend on the performance of precipitations until next May, which is likely to be influenced by the La Niña meteorological phenomenon. In general, the La Niña weather pattern is characterized by below‑average precipitation amounts, which may negatively affect wheat crops in rainfed areas. In addition, a reduced snowfall during the winter months may limit snow cover, making crops susceptible to frost kill and reducing soil moisture in the spring that normally comes from snow melting.

Below‑average paddy production gathered in 2020

The 2020 harvest was completed at the end of October 2020 and the aggregate cereal production is estimated at 5 million tonnes, 12 percent below the five‑year average.

Paddy production, which account for the bulk of the country’s cereal output, is estimated at a below‑average level of 4.7 million tonnes, largely on account of reduced yields.

The 2020 production of maize and minor winter cereal crops, mainly barley and wheat, is estimated at near‑average level.

Cereal imports in 2020/21 marketing year forecast above five‑year average

The country relies on imports to satisfy its domestic demand of cereals as local production covers only one‑fifth of the requirements.

Overall, cereal imports in the 2020/21 marketing year (October/September) are forecast at an above‑average level of 16 million tonnes. Imports of maize, which account for most of the total cereal purchases, are projected at a record 11.8 million tonnes, driven by strong demand by the feed industry amid rising livestock numbers and limited availability of cheap feed grade wheat. Wheat and rice imports are set to remain at levels of 3.9 million and 410 000 tonnes, respectively.