USDA: Unseasonable Warmth Ushers Some Crops out of Dormancy in Europe

March 10, 2014 07:55 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility has issued the following monthly global weather highlights:

  • UNITED STATES: California experienced an unusual February, with record-setting warmth occurring between early- and late-month storms. The rain and snow, while significant, failed to appreciably dent California’s three-year drought. However, the precipitation aided drought-stressed rangeland, pastures, and winter grains, and temporarily eased irrigation requirements. At month’s end, beneficial precipitation also overspread other drought-affected areas of the West, including the Great Basin and parts of the Southwest. Meanwhile, a sustained stretch of stormy weather improved water-supply prospects in the Northwest. Farther east, snowy conditions on the northern Plains contrasted with drier-than-normal weather on the southern Plains. During February, portions of the Plains’ winter wheat endured drought, temperature extremes, occasional high winds, and exposure to bitter cold without the benefit of a protective snow cover, leading to steady or declining crop conditions. Meanwhile in the Midwest, bitterly cold, often snowy weather hampered rural travel and maintained stress on winter-weary livestock. Elsewhere, the South and East were also exposed to bouts of wintry weather and frigid conditions, although winter agricultural areas of Florida and Texas escaped without freezes.

  • SOUTH AMERICA: In early February, heat and dryness stressed soybeans in key production areas of Paraguay and southern Brazil. Unseasonable warmth and dryness also affected coffee in the main growing region of southeastern Brazil. In contrast, wet weather persisted in Mato Grosso and portions of northeastern Brazil, keeping immature corn and cotton abundantly watered but hampering fieldwork, including treatments for pests and diseases. Meanwhile, frequent, locally heavy rain greatly increased moisture levels for Argentina’s summer grains, oilseeds, and cotton, improving prospects of later-planted summer crops but causing localized flooding.

  • EUROPE: An unseasonably warm February ushered winter crops out of dormancy up to a month ahead of normal from Germany and western Poland southeastward into the Balkans. Additionally, the warm weather also encouraged rapid early-season growth of wheat and rapeseed in France. Meanwhile, a parade of storms maintained locally excessive soil moisture for vegetative winter wheat and barley from Spain into Italy and boosted water reserves for irrigated summer crops. Stormy weather also frequented the United Kingdom, causing localized flooding but providing adequate to abundant moisture for winter grains and oilseeds.

  • FSU-WESTERN: Unseasonably warm, dry weather facilitated early spring grain planting and winter crop greening in southern-most growing areas. By month’s end, the region’s typically deep snowpack had melted up to a month ahead of normal in central and western crop districts.

  • NORTHWESTERN AFRICA: In February, occasional rainfall maintained excellent prospects for vegetative winter wheat and barley from northern Morocco into Algeria and Tunisia. In contrast, drier-than-normal conditions lingered over southern Morocco, reducing soil moisture for winter grain growth. Temperatures averaged near normal.

  • MIDDLE EAST AND TURKEY: Unseasonably warm conditions in Turkey accelerated winter wheat out of dormancy up to a month ahead of normal. Despite some showers, a drier-than-normal February in Turkey further stressed a wheat crop beset by an abnormally dry autumn and a sharp cold snap in December. Elsewhere, dry weather prevailed, though winter grain prospects in Iraq and Iran were overall favorable due to a wet winter.

  • SOUTH ASIA: Dry, cooler -than-normal weather during much of February provided favorable conditions for filling wheat and rapeseed in northern India. However, unseasonably heavy rainfall at month’s end raised concerns for prospects of maturing rapeseed.

  • EASTERN ASIA: A mid-February cold snap followed near-record warmth for much of the winter that had reduced cold hardiness of winter wheat and rapeseed making crops more susceptible to the cold. Warmer weather returned by the end of February, causing most crops to break dormancy in all but the far northern winter crop areas. In addition, occasional showers during the month provided a favorable boost to soil moisture as crops became vegetative. In southern China, consistent rainfall during February boosted moisture supplies as preparations for spring rice transplanting got underway.

  • SOUTHEAST ASIA: In Java, Indonesia, excessive rainfall continued into February across western rice areas , where crops were maturing. The continuation of near-record rainfall diminished otherwise excellent rice prospects in Java. In contrast, drier conditions in central Java promoted rice maturation, while continued seasonal showers benefited filling rice in the east. In the Philippines, rice and corn were in various stages of development , with drier-than-usual weather promoting maturation of the more advanced crops. Moisture supplies remained adequate, however, for the remainder of Philippine crops.

  • AUSTRALIA: In southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, hot, mostly dry weather persisted in February, maintaining large irrigation demands for immature cotton while accelerating the maturation of dryland summer crops. Unfavorably hot and dry weather has plagued the region since mid-December, causing a slow but steady decline in dryland crop prospects.

  • SOUTH AFRICA: In February, warm, showery weather maintained generally favorable conditions for corn and other rain-fed summer crops, including sugarcane, although pockets of dryness developed in central and eastern sections of the corn belt. Conditions in Western Cape were overall favorable for development and harvesting of tree and vine crops.


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