SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – Rice production in South Korea in 2018-19 is forecast 2.6% lower than last year’s crop, according to a Dec. 3 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA estimates the upcoming crop at 3.86 million tonnes, lower than the 3.97 million tonnes in 2017-18 and the lowest in more than a decade.

Earlier this year, USDA forecast output at 3.87 million tonnes but unfavorable weather developments during planting and growing stages resulted in lower yield (5,244 kg per hectare), which is down 0.4% from 2017-18.

“Lower production, in tandem with a continued government policy encouraging the consumption of old rice for animal feed, is expected to result in a 16.3% stocks-to-use ratio in 2018-19,” USDA said.

Rice planted area and yield in Korea have been on a downward trend in recent years. Planted area in 2018-19 is forecast at 738,000 hectares, far below the recent high of 980,000 hectares in 2005. Likewise, this year’s forecast production of 3.86 million tonnes is 1.1 million tonnes lower than the recent high of 4.91 million tonnes in 2009.