USDA: Cooler-Than-Normal Temps LInger in Canada

10:50AM Apr 16, 2014
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USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility has provided the following weekly weather/crop highlights:

  • EUROPE: Warm, mostly dry weather prevailed across western and central Europe, while showers arrived in eastern growing areas. Temperatures averaged 3 to 10°C above normal across most of the continent, with near-normal readings confined to the lower Balk ans. Consequently, winter grains and oilseeds continued to develop at a faster-than-normal pace, while mostly sunny skies promoted t he planting of small grains, sugarbeets, and corn. However, soil moisture remained limited for wheat and rapeseed in central and southern Germany, where precipitation over the past 90 days has totaled locally less than 25 percent of normal. Rain (2-15 mm) provided much-needed soil moisture to the Low Countries, northern and eastern Germany, as well as adjacent portions of western Poland and the Czech Republic, easing short-term dryness and improving prospects for wheat and rapeseed. Heavier showers (10-50 mm) developed from Greece into eastern portions of the Balkans, slowing cotton planting and other seasonal fieldwork but sustaining favorable soil moisture for winter wheat. Across the remainder of southern Europe, mostly sunny skies and above-normal temperatures accelerated winter grain development in Spain and Italy. An abnormally warm, dry March accelerated winter crops out of dormancy up to a month ahead of normal across northern Europe. Unfavorable dryness remained entrenched across central Europe, with soil moisture becoming limited for vegetative winter wheat and rapeseed in Germany and portions of the northern Balkans. Short-term dryness is most pronounced in southern Germany, where precipitation since September 1 has tallied less than 50 percent of normal. Farther west, the dry weather was welcomed in the United Kingdom and France, enabling a rapid pace of small grain planting. A late-month freeze in these areas likely had minimal — if any — impact on winter grains, but temperatures may have gotten low enough to cause some localized burnback to early-flowering rapeseed in the United Kingdom and France. Meanwhile, near-to above-normal rainfall in Spain, Italy, and the southern Balkans maintained favorable prospects for winter grains and increased irrigation reserves for warm-season crops.

  • FSU-WESTERN: Early-week cold gave way to more seasonable temperatures, while unfavorable dryness persisted in parts of Ukraine. Temperatures during the beginning of the period dropped as low as -8°C across central and eastern Ukraine and -5°C in Russia’s Southern and North Caucasus Districts. Winter wheat in the coldest areas was likely in the tillering to early jointing stages of development, and consequently could withstand temperatures as low as -9°C. However, more advanced winter grains in Ukraine may have been susceptible to burn back in the coldest locales. By week’s end, temperatures rebounded into the teens and lower 20s (degrees C), mitigating any further freeze threat. More importantly, the first significant rain of the spring (locally up to 25 mm) arrived in Ukraine, providing much-needed soil moisture for vegetative winter crops and recently-planted small grains. Despite the rain, longer-term deficits persist, with north-central portions of Ukraine — a key corn area — reporting less than 50 percent of normal precipitation over the past 90 days. In contrast, additional light to moderate rain and wet snow (2-20 mm liquid equivalent) in Russia, Belarus, and Moldova maintained adequate soil moisture for winter wheat development and upcoming summer crop planting. In March, unseasonable warmth prevailed, with western dryness contrasting with favorably wet weather farther east. Across southern Russia, mild, showery weather eased winter crops out of dormancy. In contrast, drier-than-normal weather (locally less than 25 percent of normal) further reduced soil moisture for vegetative winter grains and oilseeds in Ukraine, which continued to develop at a much faster-than-normal pace due to unseasonable warmth. Meanwhile, dry weather encouraged small grain planting in Belarus and Moldova, as well as western portion s of Russia.

  • FSU-EASTERN: During March, above-normal temperatures and precipitation prevailed across much of the region. The warmth caused eastern portions of the Siberia District to lose snow cover by the end of the month, promoting early-season fieldwork. In contrast, the rest of the spring wheat belt (northern Kazakhstan and south-central Russia) remained covered by snow, eliminating any possibility for early small grain planting. In the south, periods of rain and mountain snow boosted irrigation reserves for cotton planting and establishment, although locally heavy showers (60-90 mm) likely caused some fieldwork delays in Tajikistan and eastern Uzbekistan.

  • MIDDLE EAST: Warmer, wetter weather followed last week’s hard freeze in Turkey, while the return of sunny skies maintained favorable growing conditions in Iraq and Iran. Widespread rain (2-30 mm) in central and southeastern Turkey improved soil moisture for heading to flowering winter grains, though winter crops in central Turkey have dealt with several harsh weather events during the 2013-14 growing campaign (for more information, see page 50 of this week’s Bulletin ). Meanwhile, locally heavy rain (25-65 mm) in western Turkey boosted moisture reserves for summer crops but hampered cotton planting efforts. Farther east, isolated, light to moderate showers (2- 20 mm) along the eastern Mediterranean Coast did little to improve winter wheat prospects which have been reduced by drought. In contrast, favorably sunny skies returned to Iraq and Iran, promoting winter crop development following last week’s soaking rainfall. March featured mild, wet weather across much of the region. Much-needed rain (locally more than 50 mm) returned to Turkey, although crops continued to struggle on the Anatolian Plateau due to poor fall establishment. However, pockets of dryness further reduced wheat yield potential along the Mediterranean Coast. Meanwhile, abundant rain (30-80 mm) from Iraq into central Iran maintained mostly favorable prospects for winter wheat and barley.

  • NORTHWEST AFRICA: Dry weather returned, facilitating winter crop development following several weeks of widespread rainfall. With season-to-date rainfall (since October 1) near to above normal in most major growing areas in northern Africa, the sunny skies and above-normal temperatures were favorable for heading to filling winter grains from northern Morocco into Tunisia. However, hot conditions ( 35-38°C) in southwestern Morocco further lowered wheat yield prospects, as crops in this portion of the country have been subjected to incursions of dryness and heat. Widespread rain maintained good to excellent yield prospects for jointing to reproductive winter grains across Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. While the rain was mostly favorable for winter grains, locally heavy downpours (150 mm or more) in northern Algeria may have ca used low- lying fields to become water-logged. In contrast, lingering concerns from winter dryness and early-spring heat continued in southern Morocco, where wheat has likely advanced into the filling stage of development ahead of normal.

  • SOUTH ASIA: Seasonably hot, mostly dry weather prevailed across India as rabi crop harvesting was nearing completion. Rainfall was widely scattered across the country and generally less than 5 mm. Heavier showers (50-100 mm) were confined to Kerala in the far southeastern portion of India. Meanwhile, heat continued to intensify and expand in central India (typical for April), where temperatures climbed above 40°C. Fieldwork preparations for the summer monsoon will begin in May and usually start with cotton planting in the northern states. Elsewhere in the region, winter wheat harvesting was underway under generally dry conditions in Pakistan. A short-season rice crop (aus) was being transplanted in Bangladesh, typically pre-dating the larger summer (aman) crop. In Sri Lanka, widespread showers (25-75 mm) increased paddy moisture for transplanting the smaller of the two rice crops (yala). Wet weather in March affected portions of the Indian wheat crop as harvesting began. In particular, Punjab and Haryana, both key wheat producers, received above-normal rainfall for the month. Many reports we re given regarding the potential for poor quality and damage from localized severe weather, which included hail. Farther south, drier weather eased late-season wetness for much of the rapeseed crop and promoted harvesting. Meanwhile, seasonably hot weather began to build, with maximum temperatures reaching into the upper 30s ( degrees C) by month’s end. The heat is a seasonal precursor to the monsoon which typically begins around June 1.

  • SOUTHEAST ASIA: Heavy showers prevailed across the southern portion of the region, including Java, Indonesia. Rainfall typically begins to slowly diminish in the southern areas as tropical rainfall migrates northward. However, heavy rainfall has been intermittent over the recent weeks, particularly in Java, Indonesia, where widespread amounts of 100 to 200 mm of rain occurred for the recent week. Rice harvesting has been underway since March and will continue through June, with the wet weather causing some limited damage and reduced quality. In contrast, the increased shower activity in the rest of Indonesia and into Malaysia has improved moisture conditions for oil palm struggling from adverse dryness. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, showers were scattered across the islands, with some localized amounts in excess of 100 mm and approaching 200 mm. Second-season rice and corn harvesting was nearing completion as growers await the start of the summer monsoon (typically beginning in early May) and the main growing season. In Vietnam, spring rice harvesting was almost complete in the south as summer rice transplanting began. In northern Vietnam, 25 to 70 mm of rain boosted moisture supplies for spring rice that will be harvested in June. To the west, pre-monsoon showers dotted Thailand with 5 to 35 mm of rain. The monsoon typically begins in early May across Thailand. In March, somewhat drier weather in Java, Indonesia, aided rice harvesting in the western and central growing regions, while more rain would benefit later-harvested rice in the east. In the Philippines, heavy showers slowed rice and corn harvesting in the east but maintained abundant irrigation supplies for summer crops to be planted in May. In part, the heavy showers were a result of a rare early-spring tropical cyclone that made landfall in the southeast. Meanwhile, warm, sunny weather benefited spring rice harvesting in southern Vietnam, while periodic showers in the north favored spring rice that will be harvested in June.

  • EAST ASIA: Showers overspread much of eastern China’s growing areas, benefiting both winter and spring crops. On the North China Plain, light showers (less than 10 mm) boosted topsoil moisture for winter wheat rapidly approaching reproduction. The majority of the rain occurred on one day (April 11) and was the first significant rainfall of the spring (beginning March 1). While the rainfall eased short-term dryness somewhat, supplemental irrigation remained necessary as the wheat enters a moisture-critical stage of development. Meanwhile in the Yangtze Valley, 25 to as much as 100 mm of rain brought spring totals to n ear normal. In general, drier weather would be preferable for rapeseed that was beginning to mature, but the added moisture benefited early-crop rice throughout Hubei, Anhui, and Hunan. Moisture conditions also remained favorable for rice in far southern provinces, although more rain would be welcomed in the southeast to ease moisture deficits incurred over the last few weeks. Temperatures across all growing regions remained as much as 5°C above normal, promoting rapid development and, in the case of winter wheat, pushing development up to 2 weeks ahead of normal. During March, little if any rainfall occurred for winter wheat breaking dormancy on the North China Plain. A notable exception to the extreme dryness was in Anhui and Jiangsu where monthly average rainfall was nearly 25 mm (half of normal). The early-spring dryness was not particularly unusual, however, with similar conditions occurring in 2011 and 2013. The dryness did force growers to rely more heavily on supplemental irrigation to maintain current crop prospects. Similar conditions occurred for winter rapeseed in the Yangtze Valley, increasing irrigation demands. In addition, temperatures in March remained much above normal, further increasing moisture requirements an d accelerating crop development (wheat and rapeseed were 2 to 4 weeks further along in development than usual). The majority of early-spring rainfall was confined to southern China, where 75 to over 200 mm provided a significant, much-needed boost to moisture supplies for early-crop rice being transplanted

  • AUSTRALIA: Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita brought flooding rains to sugar cane areas along the eastern Queensland coast. Rainfall amounts topped 200 mm in a highly localized area of the northeastern coast, with winds in excess of 135 knots (Category 4) occurring just prior to landfall on April 11. Ita weakened rapidly as it skirted the coastline and moved back out to sea on April 13 before dissipating completely. Rainfall for the week (ending April 12) was primarily confined to south and south eastern Australia, where 10 to as much as 100 mm of rain significantly boosted moisture reserves in advance of upcoming winter wheat planting but slowed lingering harvesting. In southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, mostly dry weather persisted throughout most of March, favoring maturation and harvesting of drought-stressed summer crops. Heavy rain near month’s end halted fieldwork and caused local flooding, but provided a needed boost in topsoil moisture in advance of winter grain planting.

  • SOUTH AFRICA: Dry, unseasonably cool weather favored maturing summer crops across the corn belt. Little to no rain fell from North West to Mpumalanga, and weekly average temperatures were 1 to 2°C below normal (daytime highs mostly in the lower and middle 20s degrees C). Nighttime lows fell below 10°C on several days but temperatures stayed above freezing in the main production areas. Similar conditions promoted fieldwork in the main sugarcane areas of KwaZulu-Natal; light showers (locally in excess of 10 mm) likely caused only minor harvest delays in production areas of eastern Mpumalanga. Dry weather al so dominated the Cape Provinces, with temperatures ranging fro m near normal in eastern agricultural areas of Northern and Eastern Cape to more than 5°C above normal (daytime highs approaching 40°C) in We stern Cape. During the first half of March, widespread , locally heavy rain overspread the corn belt, maintaining favorable conditions for filling to maturing summer crops in eastern farming areas, and providing a timely boost in moisture for traditionally later-planted crops farther w est. Following the beneficial rain, drier, but still seasonably warm weather spurred growth of mostly filling to maturing summer crops during the latter half of the month. Elsewhere, showers were sporadic in rain-fed sugarcane areas of southern Kwa Zulu-Natal, and many locations recorded below-normal totals (monthly accumulations of less than 100 mm), though heavier rain (100-200 mm) fell in irrigated areas farther north. In eastern sections of the Cape Provinces, near- to above-normal rainfall boosted late-seas on moisture reserves for summer row crops; as in the corn belt, most of the rain came early in the month, followed by drier, favorably warm weather. At month’s end, unseasonably heavy rain (10-50 mm, most areas) boosted topsoil moisture for the upcoming winter wheat crop in We stern Cape, but the moisture came after most tree and vine crops had been harvested

  • ARGENTINA: Unfavorably wet conditions persisted in key farming areas stretching from central Argentina to the northeast, raising concerns for the quality of maturing summer grains, oilseeds, and cotton. Most areas recorded 50 to 200 mm of rainfall, with the highest amounts (greater than 100 mm) concentrated over sections of the Parana River Valley (northern Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, and Entre Rios), renewing flooding on low-lying croplands. In contrast, lighter rain (less than 10 mm) favored maturing summer crops in the northwest (Salta and neighboring locations in Santiago del Estero, Chaco, and Formosa). In spite of the rainfall, weekly temperatures averaged near normal in central Argentina (daytime highs reaching the lower and middle 20s degrees C) and up to 4°C above normal in the north (highs in the middle and upper 30s). The coolest weather occurred at week’s end following the passage of the strong cold front that generated the heavy rains; nighttime lows fell below 5°C in the traditionally cooler locations of the south (southern Cordoba and sections of La Pampa and Buenos Aires) but no freezes were re ported. According to Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, sunflowers were 93 percent harvested as of April 10, slightly behind last yea r’s pace (96 percent). Harvest of other crops — notably corn, soybeans, and cotton — was reportedly underway, and problems with the recent wetness were noted. In March, periods of heavy rain maintained locally excessive levels of moisture for filling to maturing summer grains, oilseeds , and cotton. In central Argentina, the bulk of the rain cam e during the first half of the month, with favorably drier conditions bringing some relief from the wetness. Rain continued throughout the month across the north. Most major agricultural districts recorded more than 100 mm for the month, the exception being La Pampa, southwestern Buenos Aires, and west sections of Cordoba, all of which received at least 50 mm. The heaviest amounts (greater than 200 mm) were recorded in the northeast, including key cotton producing areas in eastern sections of Chaco and Formosa. The rain, which was untimely for open bolls, caused localized flooding along the Parana River. March temperatures averaged 1 t o 2°C below normal, as cooler-than-normal weather during the early parts of the month were only partially offset by a late-month warming trend. In spite of the general coolness, no freezes were reported in the main agricultural areas.

  • BRAZIL: Near- to above-normal rainfall benefited second-crop (safrinha) corn in Brazil’s main production areas. In the south, rainfall totaled 25 to more than 100 mm from Rio Grande do Su l and Parana westward through southern Mato Grosso do Sul and eastern Paraguay. Warm weather (daytime highs in the lower 30s degrees C) prior to the mid-week onset of the rain resulted in weekly temperatures aver aging more than 3°C above normal. Beneficial rain (locally more than 50 mm) also continued from Mato Grosso to western Bahia, maintaining gene rally favorable levels of late-season moisture for safrinha corn and cotton. As in the south, weekly temperatures averaged several degrees above normal, with daytime highs reaching the middle 30s. In contrast to the warm, showery conditions in most safrinha corn areas, warmth and unseasonable dryness returned to the main sugarcane, citrus, and coffee areas of the southeast (Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Es pirito Santo), renewing concerns for reduced production. Elsewhere, showers (10-50 mm) intensified along the northeastern coast, increasing irrigation reserves for sugarcane and cocoa as far south as northeastern Bahia. In March, beneficial rain further stabilized the condition of southern corn and soybeans, stressed by untimely periods of heat and dryness in early February. The rain also provided a needed boost in moisture to the region’s citrus and sugarcane — primarily grown in Sao Paul o — but unseasonable dryness persisted in key coffee production areas of the southeast (notably sections of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo). Farther north, frequent, above-normal rainfall maintained abundant moisture for crops in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s largest producer of second-crop (safrinha) corn and cotton; however, the wetness disrupted fieldwork, including treatments for pests and diseases. Farther east, near- to above-normal rainfall increased moisture for corn and cotton in the northeastern interior (Tocantins, western Bahia, and nearby locations in Goias, Piaui, and Maranhao), although some delays in the final stages of the soybean harvest were likely. Showers were scattered along the north eastern coast but monthly totals were below normal in irrigated cocoa and sugarcane areas in the vicinity of northeastern Bahia.

  • MEXICO: Dry, seasonably warm weather dominated the region, spurring growth of irrigated, winter-grown crops. Aside from some isolated showers (greater than 10 mm) in Chiapas and in the vicinity of central Veracruz, Mexico recorded little to no rain. Weekly temperatures averaged near to slightly above normal, spurring growth of winter grains in the north and irrigated fruit and vegetables in warmer locations along the Pacific and Gulf Coasts. Winter corn and wheat harvesting was likely underway in the northwest, though fieldwork typically doesn’t peak until May or June. Similarly, the harvest of rain-fed winter sorghum is likely beginning in Tamaulipas. In contrast, as the onset o f the summer rainy season approaches, harvesting of sugarcane is typically winding down at this time of year in key production areas near the Gulf Coast. During March, scattered showers developed in eastern agricultural areas of northern and central Mexico, boosting moisture reserves for winter- grown crops. Monthly rainfall totaled 25 to 50 mm from Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas southward to Oaxaca, including major eastern sugarcane areas in the vicinity of northern Veracruz. The rain was particularly timely for immature sorghum in the main production areas of the northeast (notably Tamaulipas), which is predominantly rain-fed. Showers were also scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, though many locations recorded below-normal rainfall. Elsewhere, light rain helped to condition fields for planting corn and other rain-fed summer crops in eastern sections of the southern plateau; however, seasonable dryness precluded early fieldwork farther west and along the southern Pacific Coast. Mostly dry, warmer-than-normal weather (monthly temperatures aver aging 1-2°C above normal) promoted growth of grains and vegetables in the northwest, although periodic showers boosted local moisture reserves . According to the Government of Mexico, total national reservoir levels were at 40.6 percent of capacity as of March 30, compared with 35.2 percent last year and 44.0 percent in 2012. Northwestern reservoirs registered 28.2 percent of normal, ahead of both last year (23.6 percent) and 2012 (22.8 percent).

  • CANADIAN PRAIRIES: Colder-than-normal weather dominated the region for much of March, resulting in monthly average temperatures up to 6°C below normal. The month started under bitter conditions (large areas experiencing nighttime lows of -30°C) before the weather gradually moderated; portions of the southwest (southern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan) enjoyed only patchy snow cover at this ti me and some freeze damage to overwintering grains and pastures was possible. A mid-month period of much milder weather pushed daytime high s in most locations well above normal for several days, resulting in region- wide erosion of the snowpack . Although light precipitation ( total accumulations of 5-25 mm, liquid equivalent) provided the southwest with additional snow before the next cold outbreak, southern-mostsections of Alberta and Saskatchewan — according to satellite snow c over estimates — were void of snow cover. Nighttime lows fell below -17°C in these locations, exposing overwintering crops to potential damage from the cold. The remainder of the Prairies recorded below-normal precipitation for March but aside from the aforementioned southern areas, the snow pack was sufficient to protect crops from bitter cold.

  • SOUTHEAST CANADA: In March, the main agricultural areas of southeastern Canada recorded below-normal temperatures nearly every day. As a result, monthly temperatures averaged 3 to 5°C be low normal throughout the region. However, a brief period of warmer weather developed during the middle part of the month, partially melting the protective layer of snow in key agricultural districts. According to satellite estimates, snow cover had been virtually eliminated from sections of southwestern Ontario before temperatures fell to potentially harmful levels (- 17°C or lower) on March 16 and 17. Another cold snap (temperature s at or below -15°C) hit the region later in the month, but most areas received light snow prior to the event, offering some protection to overwintering wheat and pastures. Other parts of Ontario, as well as Quebec, were sufficiently protected with insulating snow throughout March. Quebec recorded near- to above-normal precipitation for the month; interior farming areas of Ontario were generally drier than normal, but the precipitation was evenly distributed, allowing all but the far southwest to keep a snowpack.