Wake-Up Weather for March 24, 2009

Published on: 10:31AM Mar 24, 2009
Produced by Storm Exchange, Inc

Streaks of heavy rainfall in Oklahoma, Kansas: A powerful storm in Nebraska spun out a skinny band of showers across the central Plains Monday afternoon, producing streaks of heavy rainfall but no widespread relief for hard red winter wheat. Over an inch of rain fell in scattered areas of southwestern and northern Oklahoma and north of Salina, Kansas.  The Western Great Plains was whipped by dry gusty winds and received no rain.

Serious drought affects one-third of HRW wheat:   Hard red winter wheat farms that received hardly any rain in 4 months comprise one-third of the US breadbasket and are heavily concentrated in the Western Plains.  Irrigation is practiced in this semi-arid region, but widespread soaking rains would be the best solution for drought.  The poorest hard red winter wheat harvests are typically ones featuring drought on the High Plains. 

Relief coming:   Drought-breaking rain and snow is predicted late this week in Kansas, where a solid inch of moisture is expected to develop.  Parts of Kansas could receive 2-2.5 inches of rain and snowmelt.  Precipitation is expected to cut off sharply to the south, along a horizontal line that slices across the Texas panhandle and northern Oklahoma, leaving the Southern Plains high and dry. 

Flooding predicted in North Dakota:  Soaking rain and heavy, wet snow developed in North Dakota Monday, worsening already-wet field conditions.  Precipitation exceeded 2 inches over a broad area of central and southern North Dakota.  The prime time for planting wheat is just 6 weeks away, but soil profiles are full of snowmelt already, after last week’s thaw.  Widespread flooding on farm fields will develop in the wake of this storm.  North Dakota is the second biggest wheat state after Kansas.   

How does this affect soybeans?  If North Dakota growers cannot plant wheat on time in May, they are apt to plant soybeans, as an alternative crop.  This state has turned into an important soybean producer growing 3.5% of the US crop, on average.

Midwest rain forecast reduced:  Soaking rains are still predicted in much of the Corn Belt in the next 48 hours but rainfall will be less than first predicted, because the storm is will weaken sharply on its trek through the Midwest.  Southeast Iowa and Missouri are still targeted for strong thunderstorms and heavy rainfall today along a sharp cold front, but light- moderate rains are predicted in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, when a weaker version of the front presses east in the next 36 hours. It is a lucky break 6 weeks ahead of planting.

Corn planting date important:  Growers strive to get corn into the ground as early as possible in order to obtain the highest yield.  One may argue that point, since the 2008 corn crop turned out with near-normal  yields, despite 1-2 week delays in seeding.  A favorable outcome was possible because of generous summer rainfall that encouraged excellent pollinating conditions, and long frost-free period in the fall that gave late planted corn enough time to mature. Had ideal growing weather not developed in the summer and fall, yields  would have been well below average.

Heavy rain will target Mid-South:   Biggest rainfall amounts this week will be from Arkansas across northern Mississippi into Alabama and Georgia, and southern Tennessee, where 2-3 inches of rain is expected.  Soy and cotton farms could use a heavy soaking rain since subsoil moisture reserves are depleted, after a dry fall and winter. Cumulative rainfall since last October has been 75-80%.

European rapeseed needs rain:  Fall and winter growing conditions were dry across a broad swath of northern Europe that encompasses the top rapeseed areas.  Rainfall since September has averaged 55-70% of normal in northern France and much of Poland and patchy areas of northern Germany.  Cold winter weather had kept moisture stress at bay, but strong warming in March is coaxing rapeseed out of dormancy and increasing the need for rain.

Growth in Indonesia palm oil to continue: Historic growth in palm oil production of the past decade has made Indonesia the undisputed global leader, surpassing Malaysia several years ago.  Palm oil production has surged 19.5 million metric tons in 2009 compared with 7 million tons in 2000, nearly a 3-fold increase. The government has decentralized control over land use licensing allowing a sharp increase in provincial palm fruit plantations.  Large land tracts have been designated for the development of future plantations, leading to expectations for sharply higher growth in the years ahead.  It takes a few years for trees to reach maximum productivity.  Historic growth rates are a result of strong global vegetable oil demand.  A lion’s share of palm oil exports go to India and China. Information on palm oil growth comes is based on a March 16 report from the Foreign Agriculture Service.

North Dakota soy production surging:  The Northern Plains has become a significant soybean producing area in the 2000s. North Dakota now grows 3.5% of the national soybean crop, more than Michigan or Wisconsin, and equivalent to the amount grown in Kansas.  Growers who became discouraged by widespread diseases in wheat that reduced that crop's profitability have turned to soybeans as an alternative. A cool climate imposes constraints on soybeans, cutting the pod filling period short in those years when summer temperatures are exceptionally cool.  Even so, soybeans continue to be a very popular crop.  North Dakota soybean acreage has expanded 200% since 2000 explaining why this state has emerged as a key soybean producer.

Produced by Storm Exchange, Inc
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