Martell's Global Weather Highlights

06:27AM Dec 05, 2011

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

Upper Midwest Drought a Threat to 2012 Corn


Drought in the Northern Midwest may have a negative impact on corn yields in 2012. Corn fields not fully replenished with moisture face a greater risk for drought in the summer of 2012. Extreme dryness affects nearly one-quarter of U.S. corn.

Upper Midwest Drought


Minnesota is the driest of the top corn states. Only 3.7 inches of rainfall has developed August through November, causing a 7.1 inch moisture deficit. This was one-third of normal rainfall in the 4 months. The Iowa corn moisture deficit increased to 4.7 inches with 58% of normal rainfall. It may be very difficult to wipe out drought, even if the snowpack is heavy this winter, due to high run-off from frozen fields.

Subsoil moisture is a valuable resource for corn in the summer growing season, when crop moisture requirements are high. This is particularly true when summer rainfall is low. Corn roots may extend 5 feet deep in well drained fields, agronomists claim, giving access to stored ground moisture. Each extra foot of rooting provides about 2 more inches of water, but only if the deep subsoil is replenished.

Rainfall Increasing in Hard Red Winter Wheat

Hard red winter wheat in the southern Great Plains has received very good rainfall in November-early December. Precipitation has been well above normal in Oklahoma and Kansas, particularly. If generous precipitation continues throughout the winter, bread wheat prospects may improve. However, a full recovery is not likely. When wheat is subject to extreme drought in the fall, plant populations are reduced reducing chances for a favorable harvest.

La Niña Drought Signal in Southern Argentina

Stressful weather in Argentina has developed in Buenos Aires, the top corn province, with a very dry atmosphere and no rainfall the past 3-4 weeks The weather pattern dominating southern South America is a classic La Niña drought signature.

Buenos Aires Vegetative Stress

The air in Argentina has been extremely dry with relative humidity under 10% in Buenos Aires. Temperatures have been topping out near 90 F during the day falling to 50 F at night. A 40 F swing in temperatures is extraordinary, as the normal daily range is 20F. Extremely low humidity is the reason for a desert-like atmosphere.

Extreme dryness late August through October delayed corn planting and retarded growth. Sub-par vegetation in Buenos Aires corn can be seen on a late-November vegetation Index.

Rising Trend in Russia Grain Production

Russia may harvest a larger grain crop in the new season, 95-100 million metric tons, compared to 92 million metric tons in the harvest just finished. Sharply higher plantings of winter grains boosts the outlook. The first look at the new crop potential in 2011-12 comes from Andrey Sisov Sr, chief economist and CEO of SovEcon, the respected analysis firm based in Moscow.

Mr. Sisov predicts 45.5 million metric tons of winter grains in the 2011-12 season comprised of 39.5 million tonnes of winter wheat and the remainder rye. This would be 14% higher than last season. The planted area of winter grains a year ago was unusually small, so the increased sowings represent a return to normal.

New crop prospects are improved with increased plantings, closer to the 18 million hectare target for Russia winter grains. The Volga winter wheat is off to a favorable start with ample field moisture for wheat development. Yet, the outlook for winter wheat is not ideal. Troublesome dryness has hampered wheat development in the Southern District the main producing area. Conditions are especially dry in Krasnodar and Stavropol the southernmost wheat just east of the Black Sea.