The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com:
Heavy Rain Aiding Argentina Soybeans, South Brazil Drought Damage
More heavy rain occurred last week in Argentina’s top soybean provinces, 1.5 – 3.5 inches, improving chances for a crop of 50 million metric tons (MMT). February was twice as wet as normal, improving crop potential in the late pod-filling stage. Severe drought early in the summer caused serious stunting in soybeans while also reducing the pod set. Very favorable soybean yields are not possible. Yet production may finish surprisingly well. Once again this week, soybeans are expecting generous rainfall in the 1-3 inch range. Local sources believe a poor corn harvest is coming. Heavy rain came too late in the summer after corn had pollinated and begun filling kernels. Production is expected to come in between 20.5 to 21.5 MMT, and worse than last season’s 22 MMT harvest.
South Brazil soybeans are set to make a poor yield from very severe and persistent summer drought. Heavy rainfall finally arrived last week, 3.3 inches in Rio Grande do Sul and 2.6 inches in Parana. It was the heaviest rain since mid January and comes too late to rescue crops. This is particularly true in Rio Grande do Sul, where February growing conditions were not only dry but also very hot with temperatures, 6 F above normal. Parana, the number 2 soybean state, has experienced worse summer drought than 2008-09, when state soybean production shrank by 20%.
Mato Grosso the top Brazil soybean state could never make up for extreme yield reductions in the South, even though the state accounts for 28-29% of Brazil soybean production. Harvesting is getting into full swing. Brazil soybean production estimates are clustering in the 68 to 69 MMT range and 8% below last year's record 75.50 MMT.
Field Moisture Improving in Upper Midwest, Eastern Corn Belt Too Wet
Field moisture has improved significantly in the North-Central U.S. with stormy winter weather, but not enough precipitation has been received to eradicate subsoil drought. Iowa has accrued a 1-inch moisture surplus in the period since December 1. However, August-November severe drought caused a 4.5 inch moisture deficit. The subsoil is still very dry.
Corn producers in Minnesota and South Dakota also are feeling better about corn planting following a series of winter storms that have increased ground moisture. The three corn state still had moderate to severe drought on the February 28 U.S. Drought Monitor.
Ohio and Indiana have the opposite problem with excessive wetness. Indiana has accrued a 10-inch moisture surplus since last August. Ohio was even wetter with a 12-inch surplus. Soil erosion has occurred with excessive run-off from saturated fields. It is the second year in a row of excessively wet field conditions. Last year, corn planting was seriously delayed in the Eastern Midwest. Wet field conditions contributed to a shallow root system. A hot dry summer subsequently induced serious moisture stress. Corn production in Indiana fell 6.5% and Ohio, 4.5%. The best remedy for soggy Eastern Midwest farms would be little or no precipitation ahead of corn planting in late April-early May.
The forecast this week is very wet in the eastern two-thirds of the Midwest Corn Belt and also the Mid-South.
Russia Winter Grains in "Satisfactory" Condition
Winter grains in Russia have apparently survived bitterly cold winter weather without any significant damage. A new report from the state weather agency Gidromet-Russia claims only 6-8% of winter grains were in poor condition, the remainder considered "satisfactory" or "good." Sharp warming recently has exposed winter grains, allowing growers to inspect wheat. Deep snow insulated winter wheat from a bitter cold wave, when mean daily temperatures fell to -5 F to - 10 F during a 2-3 period in February. Temperatures have warmed up sharply causing rapid snowmelt.
Bolstered by hopes for a bumper harvest in winter grains, Russia is aiming to export a record amount of wheat. Local agriculture sources predict a 20.5 MMT of wheat exports in the marketing season ending this July. A year ago, wheat exports were sharply curtailed following historic drought. Indeed, grain exports were banned during most of the 2010-11 marketing season. For the marketing season only 3 MMT of wheat were exported.
As the Russia share of global wheat exports increases, the U.S. share of exports has declined. The USDA predicts 26.5 MMT of U.S. wheat exports in the 2011-12 marketing season. That compares to 35 MMT the previous year. Drought losses in U.S. hard red winter wheat was heavily to blame. Also, North Dakota produced a poor spring wheat harvest on lost acreage and low yields from flooding.