Martell: Extreme Heat Increases Stress on Argentine Corn

January 23, 2012 12:24 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

Extreme Heat Worsens Damage in Argentina Corn

Scattered thunderstorms have produced locally heavy rainfall in the Argentina corn growing areas in January, but not enough rain has occurred to offset the extreme heat. Rio Cuarto, a key corn area in Cordoba, has reported 90 F temperatures on 22 of the past 30 days, half of which were over 95 F, and two above 100 F. Perhaps one-third of Argentina corn has pollinated under severe heat and moisture stress. The 26 million metric ton estimate for Argentina corn production, given by USDA in the January report, is unrealistically high. Yields will be down sharply. A sizable amount of corn has suffered severe damage from drought and would be cut for silage. Moreover, not all the intended corn was planted because of persistent dry field conditions.

Satellite Vegetation Jan 1 16

Another wave of showers is getting under way in Argentina. Between 1 and 1.5 inches of rainfall is expected in the next few days when a wave of low pressure passes through the grain belt. The problem is, with depleted field moisture and high crop moisture requirements, it is difficult for corn to make significant improvement.

Swing State Texas Facing Poor Wheat Harvest

Severe drought in Texas will lead to a poor harvest in 2012 as a large share of wheat planted will be abandoned.

Texas wheat has declined with the return of dry weather to the Southern Great Plains. The good-excellent Texas wheat fell to only 22% January 15. Poor-very poor wheat comprised 56% of Texas wheat, and the worst conditions since November 20.

Poor wheat conditions do not bode well for the new harvest. February is the time when producers decide whether to keep wheat or graze it out to cattle, using the crop as a feed grain. Damaged wheat land, not worth harvesting, may be planted with cotton, sorghum or corn in the spring.

Texas is a swing state in hard red wheat production. In years of drought, the percentage of wheat "abandoned", or not harvested for grain, is very high. Texas wheat losses in the 2005-06 crop season set a record when 75% of planted wheat went un-harvested.

West Texas the state's key wheat area has experienced the driest planting conditions since the mid 1950s with July-December rainfall only 52% of normal. Drought eased from early November to mid December with above-normal rain and snowmelt. It seemed as if the drought was finally resolving. However, very dry weather has resumed, once again, in the past month with re-strengthening of the La Niña .

La Niña Expected to Persist

The Climate Prediction Center is holding firm in their forecast of a persistent La Niña "into the Northern Hemisphere spring".

La Niña strength and persistence has drought implications for corn and soybeans in South America, as well as hard red winter wheat in the US southern Great Plains, where a reduced wheat harvest is possible for the second year in a row from recurring drought.

Extremely dry soil conditions in the Upper Midwest has also been blamed on the La Niña. Minnesota and northern Iowa corn areas have accrued soil moisture deficits of 5-7 inches since August 1. Field moisture is not expected to be fully replenished before spring planting begins, by late April or early May.

6 mo precip Dep From Norm

The weather pattern with La Niña is typically wet in Midwest corn states east of the Mississippi River. This is due to a pronounced storm track from the mid Mississippi Valley northeast to Ohio.

Indiana has accumulated a 5-inch moisture surplus since August 1 with repeated rain and snowfall. Ohio has been even wetter, receiving 25 inches of precipitation from August to mid January and 180% of normal precipitation. Widespread flooding and soil erosion has occurred in Ohio. Fieldwork for corn planting, due to begin in mid April, may be severely delayed by wet field conditions.











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