Global Weather Highlights: Too Dry in Eastern Australia, Recent Rains in Western Areas

May 8, 2013 04:03 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility has provided the following weekly weather/crop highlights:

  • EUROPE: A slow-moving storm generated widespread rain across western and central Europe, while dry conditions favored fieldwork but reduced soil moisture in northern and southeastern crop areas. Rainfall totaled 10 to nearly 80 mm from central Spain and western France into central Poland and the northern Balkans. Consequently, soil moisture remained adequate to abundant for vegetative to reproductive winter crops and summer crop emergence, although fields were likely too soggy for additional corn, sunflower, and sugarbeet planting. In addition, the showers slowed winter barley and wheat maturation and harvesting in Spain and northern Italy, where winter crop prospects remained overall excellent. South of the storm, sunny skies and summer-like heat (30-33°C) in the Balkans accelerated wheat growth and increased crop-water demands and evapotranspiration rates. Rain also bypassed northern Germany, where a dry March and April have reduced soil moisture for wheat and rapeseed development. In southeastern England, another dry week was welcomed by producers who are planting spring grains and oilseeds in lieu of poorly established winter crops, after an unfavorably wet autumn.

  • FSU-WESTERN: Increasingly dry, warm conditions in the south contrasted with cool, wet weather in the north. Sunny skies and above-normal temperatures (up to 7°C above normal) prevailed across Ukraine and Russia’s Southern District, reducing soil moisture for vegetative to reproductive winter wheat. The dry, occasionally hot weather (daytime highs reaching the lower 30s, degrees C) facilitated a rapid pace of fieldwork, however, including corn and sunflower planting. Meanwhile, widespread rain (10-50 mm) and near-normal temperatures from Belarus into Russia’s Volga District maintained favorable growing conditions for winter grains and oilseeds.

  • MIDDLE EAST: Unseasonably heavy rain across southern portions of the region contrasted with mostly dry, increasingly warm weather in the north. A slow-moving storm system dropped 20 to 115 mm of rain in southern Iraq and southwestern Iran, halting fieldwork and causing localized flooding. Most winter crops in these southern areas are irrigated and were likely being harvested, so the benefits of the rain were generally minimal; however, the locally heavy downpours recharged irrigation reserves and provided supplemental moisture for warm-season crops. Across the remainder of the region, dry, warm conditions (3-7°C above normal) accelerated winter grain growth and promoted seasonal fieldwork, including cotton planting in western Turkey.

  • NORTHWEST AFRICA: Cool, unsettled weather prevailed across much of the region, although drier conditions returned during the latter half of the week. Early week rainfall totaled 5 to 30 mm across northern portions of Morocco, Algeria, and northern Tunisia, slowing winter grain maturation and harvesting. However, the heaviest rain mostly bypassed the key growing areas,and sunny, warmer conditions by the end of the monitoring period allowed producers to resume harvesting efforts.

  • EAST ASIA: Early week showers (50-100 mm) from the Yangtze Valley to the southern coast of China boosted moisture supplies for corn and early double-crop rice. Although the rain was unwelcomed for ripening winter rapeseed, drier weather by midweek eased the wetness. Dry weather continued for filling winter wheat on the North China Plain, and while irrigation supplies were adequate, more rain would benefit development. Weekly temperatures were generally 1 to 3°C above normal in most crop producing zones, promoting development. In northeastern China, average temperatures (10-15 degrees C) were sufficient to allow corn, soybeans, and rice planting, and with abundant soil moisture from above-normal winter snow, yield prospects were favorable. Elsewhere in the region, weekly average temperatures between 10 and 15°C promoted rice transplanting on the Korean Peninsula and in Japan.

  • SOUTHEAST ASIA: Pre-monsoon rains (25-100 mm) continued for much of Thailand, although mostly dry weather prevailed in the Central Plain Region. Rice transplanting was likely underway in a limited fashion and will begin in earnest once the monsoon begins. Heavy showers (50-100 mm) occurred in northern Laos and northern Vietnam. Similar to Thailand, a limited amount of rice transplanting was likely underway in Laos, while the heavy showers were beneficial for reproductive winter-spring rice in northern Vietnam. In the Philippines, mostly dry weather prevailed, although isolated showers (25-75 mm) were reported. The southwest monsoon had yet to begin in the Philippines but typically starts around mid-May. More intensive summer rice and corn planting will occur once the rains begin.

  • AUSTRALIA: Mostly dry, very warm weather continued to favor cotton and sorghum harvesting in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The dry weather allowed early winter wheat planting to progress, but follow-up rain will be needed in these areas to aid germination and emergence. Farther south, scattered showers (1-9 mm, locally 10-25 mm) in southern New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia provided a needed, albeit small boost in topsoil moisture in advance of wheat, barley, and canola planting. Year-to-date rainfall has generally been below normal in southeastern Australia. As a result, persistent, soaking rains would be welcome throughout this region to encourage winter crop sowing and establishment. Elsewhere in the wheat belt, widespread showers (5-20 mm) in Western Australia helped condition topsoils for winter grain and oilseed planting and likely helped sowing gain some momentum. Temperatures in the Australia wheat belt averaged near to above normal (up to 2°C above normal), with maximum temperatures in the 20s degrees C in most areas.

  • ARGENTINA: Rain returned to central and northeastern Argentina, slowing harvesting of summer grains, oilseeds, and cotton but increasing moisture for the upcoming winter grain crop. Rainfall totaled 25 to 100 mm from Buenos Aires northward through Corrientes, with amounts in excess of 100 mm over Entre Rios and north-central Buenos Aires. In contrast, drier conditions continued in the northwest (notably Santiago del Estero, Salta, and western sections of Chaco and Formosa), hastening maturation and drydown of summer crops and further limiting moisture for winter crops. Weekly temperatures averaged 2 to 4°C above normal throughout central Argentina, with daytime highs reaching the lower and middle 20s (degrees C). Temperatures stayed well above freezing in most southern farming areas, with patchy frost (nighttime lows near 0°C) confined to central Buenos Aires. Warmer weather (weekly temperatures averaging 3-6°C above normal, with daytime highs in the lower and middle 30s) prevailed across the north. According to Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, corn and soybeans were 53 and 66 percent harvested, respectively, as of May 2, similar to last year’s pace.

  • BRAZIL: Mostly dry, unseasonably warm weather dominated Brazil’s main farming areas, hastening crop development and promoting seasonal fieldwork. Little to no rain fell over a broad area ranging from Santa Catarina to the northeastern interior (western Bahia, and nearby locations in Tocantins, Piaui, and Maranhao), and reaching westward through much of Mato Grosso. Near- to above-normal temperatures (weekly temperatures averaging 1-5°C above normal, with daytime highs in the lower and middle 30s degrees C) accompanied the dryness, fostering rapid growth of secondary (safrinha) corn and cotton and supporting harvesting of sugarcane and maturing row crops, including late-planted soybeans in western Bahia. Conditions also favored development of citrus and coffee. The pattern of dryness dominating central Brazil is typical of the end of the rainy season, which is usually evident from late April to early May. In contrast, several days of rain (15-100 mm) increased moisture for late-season crop development in Rio Grande do Sul but slowed the final stages of soybean harvesting. Seasonal showers (10-50 mm) also fell along the northeastern coast, increasing moisture reserves for sugarcane and other seasonal crops. Rain is expected this time of year in the far south and along the northeastern coast, making this week’s rain both timely and seasonable.

  • MEXICO: Showers increased over northeastern Mexico but rainfall continued to be sparse across the southern plateau corn belt. Rainfall totaled 25 to 100 mm from northern Veracruz to Nuevo Leon. The rain came too late to significantly benefit winter grains, including maturing rain-fed sorghum, but the moisture boosted irrigation reserves and helped condition fields for planting summer crops. In contrast, showers were generally scattered and light in eastern sections of the southern plateau (notably Mexico, Puebla, and Hidalgo), where farmers continued to await the onset of seasonal rains for planting. Dry weather persisted farther west, extending northward through Chihuahua and Sonora, where winter wheat harvesting was advancing. Above-normal temperatures accompanied the western dryness, hastening development of winter grains and other irrigated crops. Meanwhile, locally heavy showers (locally exceeding 25 mm) increased moisture for coffee and other crops from Chiapas eastward through Central America, though dry weather continued to the north, including southern Veracruz and the Yucatan Peninsula.

  • CANADIAN PRAIRIES: Cool, damp weather slowed planting of spring grains and oilseeds, as well as the green up of winter wheat and pastures. Over the past few weeks, the unusually late melting of snow across northern and eastern agricultural districts has resulted in wet fields and flooding; as of May 4, snow still covered the ground in some farming areas of Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan. This week, temperatures averaged 2 to 5°C below normal across the Prairies, with nighttime lows falling well below -5°C in most areas. Precipitation was generally scattered and light, though amounts exceeded 10 mm (liquid equivalent) in parts of Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan. Warmer, drier weather is needed to help dry fields and melt the remaining snow cover to avoid significant planting delays.


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