World Crop Weather

20/11/12 -- My US weather buddy Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections provides us with her take on the latest crop weather conditions from around the globe:

Drought Persisting in Southern Russia, Ukraine Wheat Improves

Drought persists in Russia’s Southern District a key growing area that makes up 60% of winter wheat. What makes this drought particularly severe is that the preceding summer also was very dry. Drought will not be resolved with scattered light rains. It is much the same problem as US hard red winter wheat in the Great Plains. Ukraine winter grains have benefited from heavy rainfall in recent weeks. There is enough topsoil moisture to germinate seeds and encourage a good root system ahead of the winter season. Temperatures have remained warm enough for wheat to grow and develop. The Crimea and southeastern Ukraine are still very dry.

Australia Wheat Potential Worsens

Eastern Australia has turned suddenly wet in November, southern New South Wales wheat receiving 1.25 – 2.5 inches of rainfall and 2-4 times the normal amount. Spring drought previously had grown severe in September-October. It may be too late to make a positive difference in the wheat yield, though wheat in the late grain filling stage may have benefited slightly. Poor wheat yields are anticipated in Western Australia, the top wheat state, from intense spring drought and heat stress.

The USDA reduced its estimate for Australia wheat to 21 million metric tons in the November supply - demand report. If this estimate verifies it would be nearly 30% less than last year's record 29.52 million metric tons.

Brazil Wet in Mato Grosso, Very Dry in Parana

November rains have been heavy and widespread in Brazil’s top soybean state Mato Grosso. Soybeans are off to an excellent start. South Brazil has been largely bypassed in Parana and South Brazil, though the forecast this week is hopeful for scattered heavy rainfall.

Western Parana is experiencing serious drought, Brazil’s top corn state and second leading soybean grower. A 2-inch soil moisture deficit has built up over the past 30 days, and 6-8 inches in 3 months. Small plants do not require too much rainfall but as crop growth accelerates, drought stress will manifest. Rio Grande do Sul dryness in November has been very pronounced. Yet corn and soybeans are doing better there following a wet October.

Heavy Rain Set to Resume in Argentina

Argentina soggy farms doused by extremely heavy October rainfall have benefited from November warmth and dryness. Strong thunderstorms are set to resume this week. Widespread heavy rains are predicted in the grain belt, up to 2.5 inches, in a wave of strong thunderstorms Wednesday-Thursday.

It seems unlikely growers will get all their corn planted. Less than half the intended corn had been sown by mid November. Soybeans may be substituted without a major yield penalty, if they are planted by early December.

China Harvesting Delays, Drought in Winter Wheat

China October weather was cold and wet in the main corn- and soybean growing areas in the Northeast. China has announced the corn harvest reached record proportions over 200 million metric tons, and at least 5% bigger than 2011. Soybean production is down 13% from last season, using USDA estimates. Soybean imports of 63 million metric tons would be needed to address domestic needs for the growing livestock industry. That would shatter last the record imports in 2011-12 and 59.23 million metric tons.

Persistent heavy rains in the Northeast corn and soybean region suggest frequent harvesting delays. Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning all were unseasonably wet in a cold and damp October. We wonder if the quality of crops may have declined in a strung-out harvest. The wetness was very unusual, as the autumn climate typically is dry in Northeast China.

The North China Plain has been unfavourably dry this fall, the main winter wheat growing area. There are questions about the outcome of the the spring-harvested crop in 2012, said to have set a record at 118 million metric tons. Intense spring heat and moisture stress occurred. There were also reports of fungus disease in wheat, based on the US attache reports.