The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com:
December Drought Threatens Brazil Soybeans
December weather was abnormally dry in Mato Grosso, Brazil, threatening soybeans in Brazil's top-producing state. A 200 to 300-millimeter moisture deficit developed in central Mato Grosso due to less than 35% of normal December rainfall for the region. This is highly unusual in the wet monsoon season.
Other tropical soybean states also were affected by intense December drought, including Goias, Bahia, Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso do Sul. Extreme heat was also very stressful for tropical soybeans in eastern Brazil. December temperatures were 5° to 7°F above normal, which, again, is highly unusual in the monsoon season.
But the weather pattern is now improving with heavy rainfall. Mato Grosso received generous rainfall last week of 3.0 to 3.3 inches. A familiar trough of low pressure has developed in the heart of the Brazil tropics, encouraging frequent showers and generous rainfall.
With increased cloudiness and rain, temperatures have backed off to near normal. But persistent and severe drought in December is believed to have damaged the soybean yield.
Weather Improves for Argentine Corn
A drier weather pattern with increased sunshine is aiding corn development in Argentina, though production in Buenos Aires, the top growing area, is apt to be severely reduced. Heavy rainfall in Buenos Aires prevented all of the intended corn acres in southern Argentina from being planted.
The August to December rainfall map shows 150% to 200% of normal rainfall in northern and western Buenos Aires. The persistent heavy rainfall resembles the "flood of the century" in the U.S. Midwest in 1993. That year, U.S. corn production shrank by one-third due to flood damage, reduced fertility, fertilizer being leached out of the root zone, disease and weeds.
Drought Not Resolved in U.S. Corn Belt
Stormy December weather brought waves of snow showers to the Midwest that improved soil moisture, to a degree. Precipitation from October to December was closer to normal at 75% to 80% of average.
But despite increased precipitation, Midwest drought worries are not over because of intensely dry conditions last summer in a historic drought.
Nebraska is the driest major corn state; it received the lowest precipitation on record from July to December, based on historical data going back to 1895 from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center.
U.S. Winter Wheat Prospects Boosted by Heavy Precipitation
Drought-stressed wheat in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas received beneficial, heavy precipitation in January that has helped relieve drought. At least 1/2 inch up to 2 inches of rain and snow developed in January from an active subtropical jet stream.
Soft red winter wheat has also benefited from generous precipitation with the Mid-South and Midwest turning very wet after a dry December. Pacific Northwest soft wheat has very favorable prospects thanks to abundant winter precipitation and moderate winter temperatures.
Neither La Nina nor El Nino weather has prevailed this winter in the United States. The winter weather pattern has vacillated between cold and warm, and dry and wet. This confirms the U.S. Climate Prediction Center forecast for "ENSO-neutral" conditions, which implies neither La Nina nor El Nino is in effect.
A strong cold front this weekend dropped temperatures 25° to 30° F in the U.S. heartland. Snow and freezing rain developed ahead of the front.
The five-day forecast is quiet in the U.S. heartland, with little call for precipitation.
Temperatures in the 6-10 day outlook calls for warmth in the western United States and cold in the East, which is just opposite of December.
The precipitation resembles La Nina in the 6-10 day forecast, as it calls for a very dry weather pattern across the southern United States.