Martell's Global Weather Highlights

October 31, 2011 01:14 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

Ukraine Fall Sown Grains Stunted By Drought

Ukraine prospects for winter wheat and rapeseed are damaged by poor fall establishment. Field moisture for planting was poor from hot, dry weather from late August to early October. Drought breaking rainfall finally developed in mid October, improving field moisture, but sharply colder temperatures quickly followed, stifling growth and development. Temperatures in the past week have been below normal with frequent 20s F at night.

Ukr veg index

Sparse top growth was confirmed on a October satellite vegetation image. The Ukraine Hydrometeorological Center said last week that growers had planted 1.0 million hectares less of winter grains, because of unfavorable conditions. Moreover, 25-30% of crops may not survive the winter from poor establishment.

La Niña Strength Debated

The Australia Bureau of Meteorology said last week the La Niña had re-emerged in the Pacific Ocean. Sea surface temperatures slowly cooled reaching La Niña thresholds in late October. Further strengthening was likely to occur through the middle of the Southern Hemisphere summer (December-February). However, current observations indicated this La Niña will be "considerably weaker" than the strong 2010-11 event. Remarks came from the bi-monthly report issued last week.

Sea Sfc Temps

The US Climate Prediction Center predicts a strong La Niña in the months ahead. Upper ocean cooling has developed in the Eastern Pacific Ocean since July confirming a rapidly developing La Niña. Strong westerly winds have replaced the normal "easterlies" in the Pacific equatorial region, a symptom of a strengthening La Niña. Rainfall patterns over the past month in the Pacific Basin have also reflected La Niña. Wetness in IndoChina, Philippines and eastern Indonesia, and drought near the international dateline are classic La Niña patterns.

Argentina Drought and Crop Damage from La Niña

The La Niña typically has a strong effect on summer growing conditions in Argentina. Drought is a common occurrence. Last year with a strong La Niña soybean suffered from extreme drought, leading to production of only 49.0 million metric tons, compared to 54.50 million metric tons the previous season. Another strong La Niña in 2008-09 caused terrible drought in corn in Buenos Aires province in the south. The Argentina national corn harvest fell to 15.50 million metric tons and 30% below the prior growing season.

Update on South America Crops

South Brazil was hit twice with strong thunderstorms over the the past week, replenishing dry fields for spring planting. A solid 3 inches of rain, but locally 4-6 inches, occurred October 29 in Western Parana. Rio Grande do Sul received 2.5 – 3 inches of rain with the same rain event. Five days earlier, 1.5 to 3 inch rains occurred in South Brazil. The timing of heavy rainfall is ideal since late October is the typical start for corn planting in South Brazil. Parana is the number 1 corn producing state.

Mato Grosso rainfall has tapered off this past week, following drenching rains previously. The absence of clouds and daily showers contributed to maximum temperatures in the upper-90s F – low 100s F on a few days in the week. The new GFS forecast is wet this week in Mato Grosso, however. If showers return, as expected, all would be well for soybean development. Planting in soybeans is well advanced in Mato Grosso, compared to delayed progress last season from a slow arriving monsoon.

Frost Buenos Aires

Argentina spring planting conditions are favorable in the northern half of the grain belt Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios with adequate field moisture. Conditions are dry in Buenos Aires in the South and also unfavorably cold. Frost developed on several nights the past week. Replanting may become necessary from the very dry soil conditions. Less than half of normal rainfall has developed in much of Buenos Aires province. Winter wheat is a major crop in southern Buenos Aires. Last week, the Rosario Grains Exchange issued a new, lower estimate for winter wheat production, 12.50 million metric tons compared to 15 million metric tons in 2010-11.


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