USDA: Crops Breaking Dormany in Southern Europe

March 13, 2013 01:00 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility has provided the following weekly weather/crop highlights:

  • EUROPE: Warmer weather returned to the region, while locally heavy rain fell across much of southern Europe. A large area of high pressure maintained mostly dry (2-5 mm), increasingly warm weather from eastern France into northern Poland and the Baltic States. Winter crops remained dormant in Poland and Germany, while wheat and rapeseed began to break dormancy in northern France and southern England. Meanwhile, a slow-moving storm system approached western and southern Europe, generating widespread showers (10-25 mm) across France and the United Kingdom. As the storm drifted east, heavier rain (25-100 mm, locally more) fell in Spain, southern France, and Italy, boosting soil moisture for vegetative winter grains while increasing irrigation reserves for warm-season crops. Dry, mild weather prevailed in the Balkans, encouraging early spring fieldwork and winter crop growth.

  • FSU-WESTERN: Persistent warmth in the south contrasted with seasonably cold weather in the north. Temperatures up to 4°C above normal across the region’s southern tier caused additional winter crop greening and encouraged producers to continue sowing spring grains several weeks earlier than normal, especially in southern Ukraine. The weather was generally dry in the south, although an approaching storm system was bringing rain to these areas as of March 11. Meanwhile, cold conditions (temperatures averaging 1-5°C below normal) prevailed over the northern half of the region, accompanied by additional light to moderate snowfall (2-11 mm liquid equivalent). By week’s end, winter wheat areas in central and southern portions of Ukraine and Russia’s Southern District remained free of snow cover, while snow depths averaged 10 to 50 cm from Belarus and northern Ukraine into Russia’s Volga District.

  • MIDDLE EAST: Mild, showery weather prevailed across most of the region, with locally heavy rain falling in eastern crop areas. A Mediterranean storm tracked across the region, producing light to moderate rain and mountain snow (2-30 mm liquid equivalent) from southern and central Turkey into northern Iraq and western Iran, that maintained adequate moisture supplies for greening to vegetative winter grains. Farther east, moderate to heavy rain and mountain snow (10 110 mm liquid equivalent) fell across much of central and eastern Iran — including the Caspian Sea Coast – supplying additional moisture for winter wheat and barley while further boosting irrigation reserves for warm-season crops. Temperatures averaged 1 to 3°C above normal over most of the region, with weekly average temperatures above 5°C supporting winter grain growth in all primary wheat districts except for the Anatolian Plateau.

  • NORTHWEST AFRICA: Heavy rain in the west contrasted with drier conditions in eastern growing areas. A slow-moving storm system produced moderate to heavy rainfall (25-180 mm) in Morocco, boosting soil moisture in the north and alleviating concerns over developing dryness in southern portions of the country. However, some lowland flooding likely resulted from the locally heavy downpours. Rain amounts diminished farther east, with totals ranging from 10 to 30 mm in western Algeria to less than 5 mm in northern Tunisia. Nevertheless, winter grains continued to develop favorably with adequate to abundant soil moisture and above-normal temperatures (2-5°C above normal).

  • SOUTHEAST ASIA: Early week showers (50-100 mm or more) gave way to beneficially drier weather in western Java, Indonesia; as rice maturation and harvesting progressed. Rainfall was generally lighter (25-50 mm) in eastern growing areas of Java, where filling rice could still benefit from the added moisture. In the Philippines, 25 to 50 mm of rainfall prevailed across eastern rice and corn areas, while seasonably dry weather occurred throughout the remainder of the country. Meanwhile in Indochina, winter-spring rice harvesting continued in southern Vietnam under beneficially dry weather. In contrast, unseasonable rainfall (10-50 mm) in Thailand provided an unexpected boost to reservoir levels.

  • AUSTRALIA: Following last week’s soaking rains, drier weather (generally less than 5 mm, with greater amounts farther north) overspread interior portions of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The drier weather aided summer crop maturation and early harvesting, while sunny skies promoted the continued development of later planted cotton and sorghum. Temperatures in major summer crop areas continued to average about 1 to 2 ° C below normal, with maximum temperatures generally in the middle 20s to lower 30s degrees C.

  • SOUTH AFRICA: Unseasonable warmth and dryness dominated the corn belt, reducing moisture for immature, rain-fed summer crops that have struggled with bouts of heat and dryness since January. Rainfall totaled below 10 mm over a large portion of the corn belt, with heavier rain (10-25 mm) generally confined to outlying production areas in North West, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal. In addition, rainfall in excess of 50 mm was recorded in northern Mpumalanga, benefiting corn but also boosting irrigation reserves for sugarcane. Weekly temperatures averaged 2 to 3°C above normal in central and western sections of the corn belt (North West, Gauteng, and Free State), with daytime highs in the lower and middle 30s (degrees C). Rainfall was also unseasonably light (less than 25 mm) at most locations in the rain-fed sugarcane areas of KwaZulu-Natal, with weekly average temperatures averaging 1°C above normal (highs reaching the lower 30s). Warm, mostly dry weather also dominated the Cape Provinces, with only a few locations recording rainfall in excess of 10 mm. Daytime highs reaching the middle 30s fostered rapid maturation of corn, cotton, and other irrigated row crops in the Orange Valley, while in Western Cape, hot weather (temperatures reaching 40°C) promoted drydown and harvesting of tree and vine crops.

  • ARGENTINA: Following last week’s soaking rain, mostly dry, occasionally warm weather promoted development of summer grains and oilseeds. Showers (greater than 10 mm) lingered early in the week over southern production areas of La Pampa and Buenos Aires, but little to no rain fell from the remainder of central Argentina northward through Salta. Moderate to heavy rain (25- 100 mm) overspread the northeast (northern Santa Fe and Chaco eastward through Misiones), increasing moisture for cotton and other crops. Weekly temperatures averaged 1 to 2°C below normal in central and northeastern Argentina, with daytime highs reaching the lower 30s (degrees C) in most areas. In contrast, unseasonable warmth (weekly temperatures averaging up to 2°C above normal, with local highs in excess of 40°C) continued in the northwest (northern Cordoba through Salta), stressing late- planted summer row crops. According to Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, sunflowers were 44 percent harvested as of March 7, 5 percentage points ahead of last season. Fieldwork has begun in key production areas of central Argentina; harvesting in Buenos Aires, the country’s largest producer of sunflowers, was at 9 percent, compared with 15 percent last year.

  • BRAZIL: Beneficial rain returned to previously dry sections of southern Brazil, but unseasonable warmth and dryness continued to be a problem for farmers in the northeastern interior. Rainfall totaling 25 to 100 mm boosted moisture for soybeans and corn from Rio Grande do Sul to Parana and southern Mato Grosso do Sul; similar amounts were recorded from Mato Grosso southeastward to southern Minas Gerais, but the rainfall was patchy in some areas, including important sugarcane areas of Sao Paulo. Elsewhere, dry weather dominating the northeastward again spread westward into interior soybean and cotton areas (western Bahia, and nearby locations in Goias, Tocantins, Piaui, and Maranhao), renewing this season’s trend of erratic rainfall. Weekly temperatures averaged 2 to 4°C above normal in the vicinity of the northeastern dryness, with daytime highs reaching the upper 30s (degrees C) exacerbating the effects of the dryness on immature row crops. In contrast, weekly temperatures averaged up to 3°C below normal in Rio Grande so Sul, where highs ranged from 28 to 32°C.


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