The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com:
Argentina Persistent Rains Reducing Corn Plantings
Persistent heavy rainfall is preventing Argentina producers from getting corn planted in Buenos Aires, the top producing area. Another 1-3 inches of rainfall developed last week and 7-11 inches in the recent 45 days. Fields are saturated from historic heavy rainfall. Cordoba and Santa Fe farms benefited from a stretch of drier weather in November, permitting corn planting to advance. Growers chose to plant mostly soybeans. The USDA predicted Argentina producer would plant 17% less corn in their November report, perhaps not low enough given persistent rains in Buenos Aires.
Rainfall Picking Up in South Brazil
Showers have increased in South Brazil in December, but not enough rain has developed to replenish parched fields after a very dry November. Rainfall last week exceeded 2 inches over a large area of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and southern Parana. However, that compares to a 4-6 inch moisture deficit in a very dry November. An unstable trough of low pressure will bring more rain to South Brazil this week, though hot temperatures are expected to continue, highs in the mid 90s F.
La Nina Signal Emerging
Sea surface temperatures have chilled down 1.3 degrees C since mid November in the equatorial Pacific Ocean where the ENSO signal is closely monitor. Dry weather in South Brazil in recent weeks may be symptom of a La Nina signal. For a full blown La Nina to occur, the sea surface temperatures in the key Nino 3.4 region must be at least 0.5 C below average. The US Climate Prediction Center does not anticipate a La Nina, rather predicting ENSO-neutral conditions in the Southern Hemisphere summer December-February.
Southern Plains Drought, Northern United States Snow
December weather has turned stormy in the northern United States, but the Southern Great Plains has continued dry in the key bread-wheat states. Drought has intensified in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, with only 57% of normal rainfall since September 1. This has led to the worst hard red wheat conditions on record, 22% good-excellent, 45% fair and 33% poor-very poor in late November. Experts anticipate significant wheat losses. Drought and wind erosion may claim 25% of the planted area, well above average. At the same time, while drought has persisted in the Southern Great Plains, welcome heavy snow occurred in the Northern United States. Weekend snows were 5-12 inches on dry corn farms in South Dakota, southern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.
Cold December Temperatures Slowing Europe Wheat Growth
Freezing temperatures have brought wheat development to a sudden halt in Europe’s soft wheat belt. Temperatures last week were 5-9 F below normal. Snow has developed in Eastern Europe, where extremely cold temperatures were reported, as low as zero F (-17 C) in southern Poland, Slovakia and northern Romania. Worries over wheat development continued in United Kingdom, where winter wheat planting got delayed by persistent showers. A portion of the crop had not even emerged by December 1. Soil wetness continues, while cold weather slows growth and development in winter wheat and rapeseed. Another area of concern is the northern Italy where fall growing conditions have been persistently wet, hampering wheat growth. A persistent storm track in the Mediterranean sea has caused wet weather also in southeastern France and eastern Spain.
Bitter Cold Wave in Russia, Kazakhstan
Heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures have developed this month in Kazakhstan and Siberia temperatures to 20-25 F below zero. No crops are growing in December, as these are spring grain growing areas. Harvesting would have been completed in October. Southern Russia winter wheat has received some beneficial rain recently east of the Black Sea in Krasnodar and Stavropol. Conditions are dry through a deep layer due to sub-par rainfall since August. Up to 15% of the winter wheat in the Southern District was considered poor based on recent reports.
Cold and Snow in Northeast China
Frequent snowfalls and cold temperatures have developed in China’s Manchurian Plain. Heilongjiang province has been particularly cold and snowy. Temperatures have fallen as low as 15 F below zero last week. Snow has developed as far south as Beijing in North China. Snow is considered beneficial for winter wheat in the Hebei and Shandong provinces insulating the crop from bitterly cold temperatures and providing valuable moisture. The sudden cold in the northern latitudes may be occurring from a La Nina signal. Besides NE China, Kazakhstan and Russia, the Canadian prairies also are experiencing unusually cold weather.