HANOI, VIETNAM — Due to a lower harvested area of the autumn crop, Vietnam’s milled rice production in 2018-19 is now expected to be less than originally estimated, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Milled rice production is estimated at 27.77 million tonnes, down from the USDA’s official previous estimate of 27.92 million. It is virtually unchanged from production in 2017-18.

Total paddy production is estimated at 44.43 million tonnes, down from the USDA official number of 44.68 million tonnes.

The drop in harvested area is expected to continue into 2019-20.

In 2018-19 it was drier than usual, which affected the autumn crop in the central region of Vietnam, the USDA said.

“Taking into account the unfavorable weather conditions, the Vietnamese Ministry of Agricultural Rural and Development encouraged farmers to switch to other crops in localities at risk of insufficient water supply,” the USDA said.

The export forecast for 2018-19 was unchanged from the previous year, with decreasing demand from China and Indonesia being offset by increased demand from the Philippines and other countries, the USDA said.

In the first eight months of the year, Vietnam exported 4.5 million tonnes of milled rice. Export volume in 2018-19 is estimated at 6.5 million tonnes, similar to 2017-18, due to lack of purchases from traditional major markets such as China and Indonesia.

Export volume to China was down 70%, the USDA said, partly due to a tariff rate quota on imported grains, including a 5.4-million-tonne cap for rice from all sources.

“Together with a new tariff policy, which came in effect last July (VM8050), Vietnamese exports to the Chinese market will continue to face challenges in the coming year,” the USDA said.

Vietnamese exports to Indonesia have declined 90% due to high stock.

Decreases were offset by increased volume to the Philippines, Ivory Coast and Oceania. The Philippines became the top export market with the volume increasing 170% to nearly 2 million tonnes, the USDA said.