Martell: Severe Weather Stress Not Confined to Midwest Corn Belt

July 9, 2012 04:32 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

The American Midwest is not the only place where extreme weather is diminishing crop prospects. Today's report takes a close look at Ukraine where severe summer heat and dryness has greatly damaged grain potential. At the other end of the spectrum, Western Europe is way too wet having an adverse effect on ripening wheat and rapeseed. Today's report includes a jet stream forecast showing high ridges (drought) and deep troughs (extreme wetness) in the Northern Hemisphere. This weather pattern seems to be entrenched.

Ukraine Heat Wave Squelching Corn Hopes

Temperatures in the 90sF have returned to Ukraine, stressing developing corn and further shrinking hopes for an abundant corn harvest. Temperatures in the upper 80s to mid 90s F developed in recent days in southern and central Ukraine where corn is the main summer crop. June rainfall was only 40-50 percent of normal in the main corn area and a very hot June. The Ukraine Hydromet Center last week reduced its corn production estimate to 22 million metric tons (MMT) from earlier expectations for 25-27 MMT. Ukraine turned into a key player in global corn trade in 2011-12 exporting a record 14 MMT, similar to Argentina’s 13 MMT and Brazil’s 12 MMT of corn exports. The message is that Ukraine's dimming corn hopes would exacerbate a world shortage in corn supplies.

Western Europe Wheat Quality in Jeopardy from Heavy Rain

The flip side to Ukraine’s drought is excessively heavy rain in United Kingdom and northern France that threatens crop quality. Relentless showers in United Kingdom have produced 2-3 times the normal rain in the recent 30 days. Northern France the biggest wheat area in Europe’s largest producing nation has received 150% of normal moisture. Heavy rainfall was valuable in boosting wheat development in the grain filling stage, but crop quality concerns are growing from "too much of a good thing." AgMer the French farm bureau last week raised its estimate for France soft wheat production to 35.9 million metric tons, which would be 1.9 MMT bigger than last year. Crop watchers are anxiously waiting for the harvest to begin to see if wheat quality was damaged.

Northern Europe Wet, Ukraine Dry

Persistent Ridges and Troughs in Jet Stream

A strong ridge of high pressure is strengthening this week in North America causing heat and dryness in Western Canada, the prairie provinces and northern United States. At the same time, the forecast remains wet in Western Europe where unstable low pressure prevails. See the attached jet stream forecast map valid Thursday.

Jet Stream Forecast  Thursday July 12

Increasing heat and dryness would be welcome in the Canadian prairies Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba following an incredibly wet May and June, when 150-250% of normal rainfall occurred. Here is an excerpt from the July 5 Saskatchewan crop letter:

"Across the province, topsoil moisture on cropland is rated as 27 per cent surplus, 72 per cent adequate and one per cent short. Thunderstorms in some areas produced strong winds and varying amounts of precipitation. Hail and tornadoes were also reported. Flooding, wind, hail, insects and disease are causing the majority of crop damage. Farmers are busy haying, scouting crops and spraying for diseases and weeds."


Midwest Drought To Continue

Sharp cooling in the Midwest oddly was not accompanied by heavy rainfall on the weekend. Cool high pressure is expected to maintain the upper hand this week in North-Central United States including the key corn, soybean and spring wheat growing areas.

No America 5 Day Rainfall Forecast

At the same time, heavy rain is projected along a cool front that stalls across the southern United States, stretching from Texas into the Delta and Mid South. The 6-10 day forecast continues threatening for ongoing heat and dryness. The only difference from before is that the Northern Midwest be most affected by extreme heat and very dry weather. Previously it was the central Corn Belt.

I am preparing a "compare and contrast" report on Midwest corn potential using the 1988 drought and heat wave as the analog for my subscribers. This will show weekly rainfall and temperature values compared to the historic drought 24 hours ago that slashed corn production by 39% from the prior 3-year average. Click here for subscription information.





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