The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com:
Argentina Soybeans Improving as Brazil Prospects Deteriorate
Drought breaking, drenching rain since late January has stabilized soybeans in Argentina, even improving yield potential in some areas of the central grain belt. More heavy rainfall is expected this week, another 1-2 inches. As the La Nina has weakened, conditions have turned sharply wetter with 4-6 inches of rainfall since late January. Intense drought and heat stress early in the summer means a favorable soybean yield is out of the question, stunting crop growth and reducing pod counts. Heavy late-summer rainfall would increase pod filling, however. Production may reach 50 million metric tons (MMT) compared to USDA’s February estimate 49 MMT.
At the same time, Brazil soybean potential is much worse than last year with drought in South Brazil and reported yield losses from rust in Mato Grosso. Heavy rainfall finally arrived last week in southern Brazil, the first important moisture in 6 weeks. Rio Grande do Sul soybeans received only 54% of normal moisture since December 1, at the same experiencing intense heat. Brazil soybean production may shrink to 69 MMT compared to last year’s record 75.50 MMT.
Drought Easing in Upper Midwest
Several waves of rain and snow showers in mid February increased field moisture for corn planting in the driest areas of the Upper Midwest. Precipitation since mid February has accumulated to 1-1.5 inches across most of Iowa and southeastern South Dakota, but less in Minnesota and northern Iowa. It will take a lot more precipitation to restore field moisture. Record drought has developed since August 1 in the Upper Midwest, creating soil moisture deficiencies of 5-7 inches. The lack of stored ground moisture may be damaging for corn yields, unless the summer growing season becomes exceptionally wet.
The stormy weather pattern will continue this week with heavy snow and sleet predicted in South Dakota, Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. The cooler temperatures and increased precipitation is evidence of a weakening La Nina.
Ukraine Corn Hopes for 2012 Too Optimistic
Ukraine has emerged has a major corn exporter following record harvest in 2011, 23.5 million metric tons and twice as large as the previous season’s 11.9 MMT. Agriculture officials predict another banner year for corn in 2012, leading to high exports of 14-15 million metric tons, up from a projected 12.5 MMT in 2011-12. Plantings in corn have risen around 30%.
The problem with growing corn in Ukraine is the northern latitude, similar to North Dakota, imposing a restriction on heat units required for a high yield. Last year, the growing season was much warmer than normal promoting stronger than normal growth. Corn plants were taller producing bigger ears and more kernels, contributing to the exceptional production. Early seeding dates in May insured corn would mature safely, before the first fall freeze.
Ideal warm and wet growing conditions may not repeat in 2012.
Canada Prairie Record Winter Drought
While drought has eased in portions of the Midwest the Canadian prairies have been exceptionally dry. Eastern Alberta and northwest Saskatchewan received just 1-2 inches of precipitation since September 1, 2011, some farms under one inch (25 millimeters). It is worth noting winters in the prairie provinces are normally dry with just 1-2 inches of precipitation from December through February. Even so, the absence of any meaningful precipitation this winter has worsened already-dry field conditions. Manitoba and central Saskatchewan also are exceptionally dry with hardly any winter snowfall.
Canada’s drought is just the opposite of last year when incredibly wet conditions delayed spring planting. Growers were concerned grain quality may be spoiled by a strung-out harvest in the fall, but ideal warm and sunny weather hastened crop drying and harvesting. In the end, Canada wheat production was ample with 25.26 million metric tons. A very wet growing season will be needed in 2012 for a chance at favorable production.