Rains Boost Soil Moisture for Russia's Wheat Crop

May 1, 2013 02:30 AM

The following global crop and weather highlights from USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility are a helpful snapshot of global conditions:

  • EUROPE: After a dry start to the week, a slow-moving Mediterranean low brought increasingly wet weather to central portions of the continent. Rain totaled 10 to 50 mm from northern Italy into southern France and much of Germany, while lesser amounts (2-12 mm) had accumulated in northwestern Poland. On the western periphery of the storm, showers also increased in Spain (2-10 mm) by week’s end. As a consequence, soil moisture remained adequate to abundant for winter grains and oilseeds (vegetative in the north, heading to filling in Spain and Italy), although fieldwork slowed as the rain arrived. However, the rainy conditions mostly bypassed southeastern England, allowing producers to sow spring and summer crops after an unfavorably wet autumn. In contrast, sunny skies and above-normal temperatures (up to 7°C above normal) accelerated winter wheat development and summer crop planting in southeastern Europe.

  • FSU-WESTERN: Warm weather promoted fieldwork and crop development in western and northern growing areas, while cool, showery conditions favored winter wheat development in the south. High pressure provided mostly sunny skies and near- to above- normal temperatures from Ukraine into central and northern Russia, promoting spring grain planting and winter crop development after protracted delays due to cold weather. Meanwhile, a cold front generated showers (4-25 mm) in Russia’s Volga and Southern Districts, boosting soil moisture for winter wheat development.

  • MIDDLE EAST: Late-season showers in central winter grain districts contrasted with dry conditions in western and southern crop areas. An upper-air disturbance generated showers (2-30 mm) from southeastern Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean Coast into northern portions of Iraq and Iran, providing additional soil moisture for reproductive to filling winter grains. In central and western Turkey, near-normal temperatures and sunny skies promoted winter wheat development. Mostly dry, seasonably warm weather in southern Iraq and Iran favored winter grain drydown after an unusual period of heavy rain in early April.

  • NORTHWEST AFRICA: The favorable growing season continued, with sunny skies and above-normal temperatures in the west contrasting with cool, wet weather in central and eastern portions of the region. Dry, warm weather (1-4°C above normal) in Morocco maintained excellent yield prospects for filling to maturing wheat and barley. In Algeria and Tunisia, a slow-moving Mediterranean storm produced 20 to 65 mm of rain (locally more), providing late-season moisture for reproductive to filling winter grains. Across the region, the 2012-13 growing season will likely go down as one of the most favorable in recent memory, with little — if any — adverse weather for the region’s wheat and barley.

  • EAST ASIA: Early week showers gave way to drier conditions on the North China Plain and in the Yangtze Valley. On the North China Plain, 1 to 10 mm of rain and supplemental irrigation maintained favorable moisture conditions for filling winter wheat. In addition, weekly temperatures 1 to 2°C below normal reduced crop water demands. Although spring (since March 1) rainfall has been below normal on the North China Plain, the region typically only accumulates 40 (north) to 100 mm (south) of rain through April. Rainfall in the Yangtze Valley was somewhat heavier than farther north, with 20 to 50 mm reported. The rain was unwelcome for winter rapeseed in the ripening stage, but benefited corn and rice. Meanwhile, persistent showers (25-50 mm, locally 100 mm) in the main rice growing areas of southern China maintained beneficial moisture supplies for early double-crop rice.

  • SOUTHEAST ASIA: Easterly winds continued in Thailand as growers await the onset of the monsoon. However, pre-monsoon showers (20-100 mm) continued across most areas of Thailand, prompting field preparations for rice transplanting. In Vietnam, reproductive winter-spring rice in the north benefited from 10 to 20 mm of rain, while summer-autumn rice transplanting continued in the south under generally sunny weather. Meanwhile, rainfall in the Philippines was generally limited to portions of Luzon where 20 (west) to 150 mm (east) increased moisture supplies as growers prepare for the main crop season. Farther south, oil palm in Malaysia and Indonesia benefited from increased rainfall (50-100 mm), although some areas of Indonesia received in excess of 150 mm for the week, slowing or halting harvesting.

  • AUSTRALIA: In southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, dry, seasonably warm weather favored uninterrupted summer crop harvesting and aided early winter wheat planting in the north. In southeastern Australia, scattered showers (2-15 mm) boosted local moisture supplies in advance of wheat, barley, and canola planting. In contrast, isolated showers (generally less than 5 mm) in Western Australia provided little additional topsoil moisture prior to winter grain and oilseed planting. Typically, most winter crops are planted during May and June in western and southeastern Australia. Soaking rains would be welcome in these areas to help condition soils for planting and to subsequently promote winter crop germination and emergence.

  • SOUTH AFRICA: Dry weather returned to the region following last week’s unseasonable wetness. Little to no rain fell across the corn belt (North West to Mpumalanga), allowing fields to dry for summer crop harvesting and preparations for wheat planting. Weekly temperatures averaged 1 to 3°C below normal, with nighttime lows falling below 5°C in some locations. However, daytime highs still reached the middle 30s (degrees C) in eastern sections of the corn belt and the upper 20s in the west. Elsewhere, light showers (less than 10 mm) lingered early in the week over southern KwaZulu-Natal, but conditions rapidly improved for sugarcane harvesting. Dry, unseasonably warm weather dominated Western Cape, with daytime highs approaching 40°C in some locations. Winter wheat harvesting should be progressing with generally favorable levels of topsoil moisture. Weekly coverage will be suspended until October 2013, when planting of corn and other summer crops commences.

  • ARGENTINA: Warm, dry weather dominated for much of the week, fostering rapid drydown and harvesting of summer grains, oilseeds, and cotton. Weekly temperatures averaged 3 to 5°C above-normal throughout the main production areas, with daytime highs ranging from the middle 20s (degrees C) in Buenos Aires to the middle 30s farther north. At week’s end, rain was returning to the region, with amounts in excess of 10 mm recorded over southern and central Cordoba. Otherwise, virtually no rain fell for nearly the entire week. According to Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, corn and soybeans were 48 and 55 percent harvested, respectively, as of April 25, similar to last year’s pace. In addition, cotton harvesting was progressing, with some areas reporting yield declines attributed to the periods of warmth and dryness affecting the region this summer.

  • BRAZIL: Dry weather continued throughout the south, fostering rapid development of summer row crops and supporting harvesting. It was the second week of dryness from Rio Grande do Sul to Mato Grosso do Sul and Sao Paulo, spurring development of second-crop (safrinha) corn and other late-developing crops. Conditions also favored the late stages of the soybean harvest in the far south (Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina), and sugarcane harvesting in Sao Paulo. This week, the dryness extended northward through Bahia, and rainfall diminished to below-normal levels (less than 25 mm) in key southern farming areas of Mato Grosso. The dryness likely marks the early stages of the winter dry season in these areas, which is typical for this time of year. However, seasonably heavy rain continued in Mato Grosso’s northern growing areas and western sections of Tocantins, providing an extra week of beneficial rain for immature corn and cotton in outlying production areas. Meanwhile, locally heavy showers (rainfall in excess of 50 mm) increased moisture for sugarcane and other plantation crops in Brazil’s northeastern tip. Weekly temperatures averaged near to above normal throughout the region, enhancing rates of crop development; daytime highs again reached the middle 30s (degrees C) in some central growing areas (Mato Grosso and Tocantins) and generally ranged from the upper 20s and lower 30s elsewhere.


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