USDA Monthly World Weather Highlights

March 9, 2012 02:55 AM

As part of the monthly USDA S&D Report, USDA Joint Ag Weather Facility has issued the following weather highlights:

  • UNITED STATES: Most areas east of the Rockies completed a fourth consecutive month with above-normal temperatures, capping a winter with only fleeting periods of cold weather. February warmth was especially prevalent across the eastern half of the nation, where pastures, winter grains, and fruit crops exhibited earlier-thannormal spring development. Meanwhile, portions of the West moved closer to a failed winter wet season, with California and the Great Basin expecting significantly below-average spring and summer runoff. However, much of the West—excluding Arizona and New Mexico— has a temporary buffer against developing drought in the form of abundant reservoir storage. Farther east, the Plains escaped the winter without a severe cold wave, although moisture shortages and a lack of a protective snow cover caused some problems for winter wheat. In particular, the southern High Plains suffered through several February dust storms, a byproduct of high winds and soil moisture depleted by the historic drought of 2011. Elsewhere, late-February storminess eased dry conditions in the upper Midwest and provided snow across the nation’s northern tier, while damaging thunderstorms and heavy rains swept across parts of the South, East, and lower Midwest. However, most of the late-month rain bypassed Florida’s parched peninsula.

  • SOUTH AMERICA: In February, wet, occasionally warm weather favored soybeans and other late-planted summer crops in central Argentina’s main farming areas, although the moisture came too late to significantly improve prospects for drought-damaged crops planted earlier in the season. Unfavorable warmth and dryness persisted for much of the month in northern Argentina, as well as in southern portions of Brazil and Paraguay, causing additional stress on soybeans. However, recent rains were timely for germination and establishment of second-crop (safrinha) corn in Parana, Brazil. Conditions remained overall favorable for crops farther north in central Brazil.

  • EUROPE: Sharply colder February weather threatened exposed winter grains and oilseeds in northern portions of France, Germany, and Poland. Bitter cold was also reported in the Balkans, although a deep snowpack protected dormant winter wheat and rapeseed. Elsewhere in southern Europe, a hard freeze was accompanied by historic snow in typically mild portions of the central Mediterranean, posing a risk to unharvested citrus and other temperature-sensitive specialty crops. Meanwhile, drought intensified on the Iberian Peninsula, reducing yield prospects for late-vegetative winter wheat and barley. Winter crops in western Europe began to break dormancy at month’s end.

  • FSU-WESTERN: Bitterly cold weather persisted over winter grain areas during February, although most crops were protected by a deep snowpack. Winter wheat in southern Ukraine may have suffered some freeze damage or burnback with the arrival of arctic air due to an initially shallow snow cover. Above-normal precipitation in Belarus, Russia, and eastern Ukraine boosted moisture reserves for spring growth.

  • NORTHWESTERN AFRICA: In February, above-normal rainfall in Tunisia and Algeria contrasted with developing dryness in Morocco. Temperatures were consistently below normal, with hard freezes posing a risk to tillering wheat and barley as well as temperature-sensitive specialty crops.

  • MIDDLE EAST AND TURKEY: Much-needed rain and snow overspread the region during February, boosting soil moisture for dormant (north) to vegetative (south) winter wheat and barley. Winter crops in Turkey were insulated from incursions of cold by a deep snowpack. Overall, wheat and barley prospects remained favorable heading into the spring.

  • SOUTH ASIA: In February, sunny, mild weather aided winter crops in the latter stages of development. Winter rapeseed was maturing in northwest India, while wheat in northern India and Pakistan was in the filling stage of development. By month’s end, warmer conditions promoted drydown and harvesting of rapeseed and rabi rice.

  • EASTERN ASIA: Generally mild weather during February favored overwintering crops in China, with widespread showers in the southeast boosting moisture reserves for spring planting. Toward the end of February, warmer weather eased winter rapeseed out of dormancy, while cold weather on the North China Plain kept winter wheat dormant.

  • SOUTHEAST ASIA: Periodic flooding from torrential rainfall caused fieldwork delays in the Philippines. Despite the delays, the rainfall maintained moisture supplies at very high levels, ensuring favorable rice and corn prospects for the first half of the year. In Vietnam, mostly dry weather favored spring rice harvesting in the south, while occasional showers in the north benefited vegetative spring rice. Rice was maturing across Java, Indonesia during February, under generally wet conditions.

  • AUSTRALIA: In February, above-normal rainfall in eastern Australia maintained abundant to locally excessive moisture supplies for immature cotton and sorghum. Isolated flooding caused local crop damage. Nevertheless, the rainfall was overall beneficial for summer crops, maintaining good to excellent yield prospects.

  • SOUTH AFRICA: During February, warmer- and drier-than-normal weather maintained unfavorable growing conditions for corn and other rain-fed summer crops, including sugarcane in southern KwaZulu-Natal.


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