Martell: Drought-Ease Rains For Plains and Midwest

December 17, 2012 05:22 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Drought Easing Rains in U.S. Winter Wheat and Corn Areas

Conditions in the United States heartland have suddenly turned stormy, ending a 60-day stretch of intense drought. Winter wheat in western Kansas and west Texas received .25 - .50 inch of precipitation Friday with a storm that moved northeast, spreading moisture up into dry corn farms as well. Corn states Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin received heavier rainfall from .50 to 1 inch. Moisture soaked into thirsty fields, not yet frozen, due to unseasonably warm December weather. Stormy conditions are expected to continue this week with .50 to .75 inch of additional precipitation. Rain and snow showers would target the central Great Plains and Midwest in a wide swath from Kansas and southern Nebraska eastward into Illinois and Indiana. Some Midwest farms are slated to receive 1.5 inches of rain.  

Wet 3 Day Forecast

Reduced Canada Canola Harvest from Drought

Very dry conditions that began last summer have persisted in Saskatchewan and western Manitoba. Soil moisture deficits up to 2 inches (50 millimeters) have accrued. Winters normally are dry so drought is not expected to be resolved soon. Canola production in 2012 was adversely affected by drought falling 9% below a year ago. Wheat including durum fared much better finishing at 27.205 million metric tons, and the largest harvest in 4 years.

Dryness in Saskatchewan

Heavy Rain Improves Soybeans in South Brazil 

Waves of heavy rainfall continued last week improving field moisture in the key farm states of Rio Grande to Sul and Parana. It was the second week in a row of generous rainfall. An unstable trough of low pressure extended from Mato Grosso in the Brazil interior southeastward to the coast, encouraging very generous rainfall in the top soybean producing areas. November had been extremely dry and hot, and very stressful for soybean development in South Brazil.

Wet in Brazil Last Week

Argentina Still Very Wet in Buenos Aires 

The top corn province in Argentina Buenos Aires received a fresh wave of showers last week perpetuating extremely wet conditions. Portions of central Buenos Aires have received 4-6 times the normal rainfall in December. This is the 4th straight month of extremely heavy rainfall. Corn seeding in Argentina was 65% complete December 8th according to the Ministry of Agriculture, suggesting not all the intended area will be sown. Soybean planting was also behind schedule, though the second-crop beans may be sown up to January 10.

Argentina Wet in Buenos Aires

Hot December Weather in Australia Wheat 

Exceptionally hot weather is predicted this week in South Australia, Victoria and southern New South Wales. This would promote rapid drying and harvesting of winter wheat. Wheat production was forecast to finish at 22 MMT in the 2012-13 harvest based on a new estimate from ABARES last week. A worse crop was anticipated from persistent spring dryness in the key eastern wheat states. If the new, higher estimate holds up it would be a 26.5% reduction from last year, when a record wheat harvest was gathered.

Germany Drought Relief,  Cold and Snow in Eastern Europe 

Night temperatures in the teens and low 20s F have been common in December, retarding winter gain development. Germany last week received very heavy precipitation, up to 1.5 inches, alleviating drought. Conditions had been persistently dry since August in the top EU rapeseed nation. United Kingdom farms have continued extremely wet receiving 150-200% of normal moisture over the past month. UK wheat producers struggled to get their crop planted in the fall, due to persistently wet field conditions. Crop development has continued very slow from ultra-wet fields.

Few Showers in Southern Russia, Snow in Ukraine

Rain and snow collected last week in Russia’s southern district but the coverage was not widespread. The best moisture occurred near the Black Sea, 10-25 millimeters (.4 – 1 inch). Conditions remained dry in Rostov and Stavropol. Rain showers are expected again this week from .2 to .8 inch. Every little bit helps, but there is long way to go to resolve drought. Severe drought has plagued Russia’s southern wheat growing area for 4-5 months. Drought affects around 60% of all winter wheat. It is similar in intensity and scope to the US Great Plains drought in hard red winter wheat. The updated forecast continues remains unsettled calling for scattered light rains this week.

Scattered Rains in Southern Russia

Ukraine Looking To Export More Wheat

Russia drought provides a stark contrast with neighboring Ukraine, where conditions are wet. Ukraine got hit with heavy snow last week further improving field moisture for winter wheat development. Fall planting rains this year were a great improvement over last season, when very serious drought occurred. The Ukraine Grain Association raised its limits on 2012-13 wheat exports to 5.8 million metric tons, apparently optimistic about the new crop potential. Drought limited wheat exports to 4.3 – 5.4 million metric tons the past 2 marketing years.


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