Martell: Argentina Expecting More Rain

January 30, 2012 07:27 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

Argentina Expecting More Rain

Generous rainfall is expected to add up this week in a stalled trough of low pressure. Rainfall for the week is expected to reach 1.0 to 2.5 inches, potentially more in scattered strong thunderstorms. Temperatures would moderate, where heavy rains occur, but highs over 90 F are still predicted in the central grain belt.

Soybean prospects are relatively better than corn, though both crops suffered from extreme drought and heat previously.   


Arg Veg Ind vs Yr ago

For corn, the rain is coming too late since the majority of the crop already has pollinated under severe heat and moisture stress. Drought damage was worse than last year, particularly in a heat wave in January. Soybeans would have a better chance to make a profitable yield. Beans planted in November, the main month for sowing, would be flowering and setting pods in February. Very late planted soybeans would be filling beans into April.   Of course, for soybeans to keep improving, the rainfall needs to keep coming.  

A mid January satellite vegetation analysis is a reminder of the severe damage that occurred earlier, showing worse conditions compared to last year except for portions of Santa Fe. Cordoba a key corn state has suffered severe damage from drought.      

USDA predicted a record  26 million metric tons (MMT) of Argentina corn in the January report, bolstered by a record planted area in corn. However, with drought, a significant amount of corn would be cut for silage, and not sold as grain.

U.S. Hard Red Winter Wheat Needs More Rain

Growing conditions in U.S. hard red winter wheat are deteriorating.  The weather has reverted back to a dry pattern  in the Southern Great Plains. Virtually no precipitation has occurred in over a month in  Kansas, Oklahoma and West Texas. Other bread-wheat states Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana also are very dry.    

US 30 day precip

A period of wetness had occurred in late November and December, improving topsoil moisture in the 3main bread wheat states Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Central Texas, on the other hand, benefited from very heavy rainfall last week that improves grazing condition for beef cattle, from 1.50 to 4.50 inches. Cattlemen who were undecided about whether to expand herds may be feeling more optimistic about breeding to increase herds. Large scale liquidation of cattle occurred in 2011 from a historic drought. Texas rainfall in the 6 months June-November was the second lowest in 117 years, based on official reports from the National Climatic Data Center. 

Midwest Cold Won’t Last

Mid January weather in the Midwest and Northern Plains felt more like winter with periods of snow and seasonally cold temperatures. Snow cover built up in mid January with a series of storms. The highest snow coverage was reported January 24,  when 47% of the United States had snow cover. 

US Forecast Sharply Warmer

Now the forecast is turning warmer again. Snow cover may disappear once again with unusually mild temperatures, and well above freezing in the northern United States.

Sub-Zero Cold in Russia Winter Grains

A bitter cold wave developed last week in the Russia winter wheat growing area. Temperatures are 20 F below normal,  ranging from single digits F to well below zero F at night. Snow protection in Russia winter wheat varies from 3 inches in the southern growing areas to over one foot in the Volga. 

Russia Overnight Min Temps

Is this trouble for winter wheat? The answer is probably not. 

Wheat planted on time in the fall and undergoing adequate "hardening" can withstand temperatures of -4 to – 5 F before winter kill occurs. This refers to the soil temperature at the "tillering node" of wheat just below the soil surface in exposed wheat. 

Mid winter is the period of maximum hardiness in wheat. The resistance to cold gradually decreases from late winter into the spring. Hardiness in wheat would still be very pronounced, despite unseasonable warmth prior to the cold wave, due short daylight hours in January and inefficient heating from weak sunlight.     

The temperatures in Krasnodar in southern Russia, where snow cover is scanty, has averaged 12 F during the past 4-5 days and the beginning of the cold wave. Temperatures averaged  20 F for maximum temperatures and near zero F at night. The threshold for a freeze-kill in wheat is much colder near -4 F.  






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