Martell: Cold & Wet Conditions Delay Planting in Ukraine and Russia

September 30, 2013 04:37 AM



The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Severe Planting Delays in Ukraine and Russia, Too Cold and Wet

Conditions have become excessively wet in European Russia the past 2-3 weeks, interfering with the planting of winter grains. Wheat is the main crop. Areas of Ukraine and Russia have received 4-6 times the normal rainfall. As of Friday, Russian winter grains were planted on 7.6 million hectares and just 46% of the planned area. That compares to 11.4 mln hectares on the same date last year. Ukraine winter grains seeding was even slower with just 25% of the intended winter wheat planted as of last week and 1.65 million hectares.

Abnormal Wetness Ukraine Russia

Delayed sowing of winter grains is very detrimental in the northern latitudes because it shortens the period for wheat development in the fall season.

Russian agronomist E. S. Ulanova explains the dangers of severe planting delays in winter wheat: "When crops are not sown at the proper time and the agro-meteorological conditions of the autumn period are unfavorable, winter wheat completes its autumn vegetation with low bushiness, an inadequately developed root system, lowered winter hardiness, and low accumulation of nutrients and protective substances. This leads to more frequent death of wintering plants, a reduced number of ear-bearing stems and, consequently, a reduced yield."

How cold is it? Low-mid 50s F for maximum temperatures and mid-upper 30s F at night -- that barely meets the threshold for wheat growth and development as 41 F (5 C) is required to stimulate growth as a mean daily temperature.

Ukraine Very Cold

Omega Block

The unusual cold and wetness in European Russia is due to "omega block" in the jet stream. A ridge of warm air over Western Europe is bounded by cold troughs on either side, the east Atlantic Ocean and European Russia. When an omega block forms in the upper-air wind field, it tends to persist for several weeks.

Omega Block Aloft

The warm and dry weather prevailing in Western Europe is the middle part of the omega block, where stable high pressure exists. Field conditions have grown progressively drier in Ireland, United Kingdom, northern Germany and Sweden. Southern Europe has also turned dry in Spain, southeastern France, Italy and the Balkans. This also may be linked to the omega block.


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