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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
This report provides an early assessment of the 2019 main crop season by analysing the meteorological (Temperature and Rainfall) and vegetation conditions until end-September 2019. Overall, the start of the season was delayed and poor due to long dry spells until June that negatively affected the establishment of early crops planted in spring as well as main season rainfed crops (Annex 1). Despite some rain improvements in June in the north of the rice bowl area, persistent dry spells in July and August negatively affected crop conditions in southwestern regions (i.e. Hwanghae Bukto, Hwanghae Namdo and Pyongyang-si). Heavy rain in September brought by Typhoon Lingling reduced water deficits and resulted in improvement of vegetation conditions but did not significantly improve crop prospects due to their late occurrence during the growing season. According to the weather and Earth Observation data analysed, irregular rainfall distribution coupled with irrigation water shortages, negatively affected the 2019 crop production, placing the country in a critical food security situation, if we also consider the poor harvest of 2018. Nonetheless, a more detailed analysis based on field observation would be necessary to confirm this diagnosis.