World wheat planting moisture conditions improving

by Drew Lerner
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KANSAS CITY — Winter wheat planting moisture for the 2014 crop is rising in nearly all Northern Hemisphere production areas suggesting favorable plant emergence and establishment.

Relief from long-term dryness already has occurred to portions of the Central U.S. Plains and across much of northern and central Europe while improvement is under way now in portions of the western Commonwealth of Independent States and India. China moisture is rated favorably and portions of Canada may still be a little dry. The change is significant from conditions a year ago when drought was deep across the central United States, southern Russia and parts of Ukraine while India’s pre-planting moisture was more limited than that of today.

United States

Hard red winter wheat production areas reported significant rainfall in August and then went dry for a while in early September. Since then a considerable amount of rain fell again with notable flooding occurring from northwestern Kansas into eastern Colorado and separately in an area across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. Rainfall in each of these areas just mentioned ranged from two to more than six times normal and seriously bolstered topsoil moisture for improved wheat planting conditions in a part of the high Plains hard red winter wheat production region. Most of the excessive rain stayed in the west, but several counties across western and north-central Kansas and far southwestern Nebraska also received significant rain. The precipitation was important since the region has been fighting moisture deficits since last year’s drought hit and production potentials for 2014, have been bolstered.

Despite the great return on moisture from last week’s rain, precipitation for the month to date is still below average in most other areas not mentioned above. Soil moisture is much improved over that of two weeks ago, but there is still room for additional moisture. Wheat planting is expanding however, and the crop is expected to get off to a better start than last year and that will place the 2014 crop in a position to yield well, assuming normal weather over the winter.

Europe

Rain fell widely across the European continent the week of Sept. 15-21 while similar conditions were occurring in the central U.S. Plains. The rain was needed, but perhaps not as well timed as that in other places in the world. Fieldwork was put on hold for a while as rain fell frequently, but last week trended drier again and that combined with the improved soil moisture situation has the continent looking extremely good for wheat, rye and winter barley planting for 2014.

The prospects for 2014 wheat are very good this year because of the favorable planting moisture that is available now and due to the forecast that offers alternating periods of rain and dry weather. The pattern should help assure that planting advances extremely well.

Commonwealth of Independent States

Ukraine and portions of Russia continued to receive frequent rain during the past week. It was the same pattern as that of the previous week. Rain has been falling frequently across winter wheat and rye production areas assuring moisture abundance for emergence and establishment of 2014 crops. The precipitation was occurring a little too often, however, with delays suggested for some of the southern crop planting.

Ukraine and southern Russia were each reporting field working delays, but most analysts and forecasters agreed that the wetter bias was badly needed after dry weather occurred during a big part of August raising concern about planting moisture.

Despite all of the news about Ukraine summer crop production being so great this year, the nation and many neighboring areas of Russia actually went through a period of notably drier-biased conditions for a few weeks in late July and August. Rain in September and in particular the past two weeks has been ideal in eliminating dryness and improving crop planting and production prospects.

The one remaining dry region in the C.I.S. has been the lower Volga River Basin. However, the lower Volga Basin will get significant rain over the next week to 10 days, bolstering soil moisture to its best level in three years. That may set the stage for a much improved production year in 2014.

India

Concern over a premature withdrawal of the summer monsoon earlier this month was painting a less than ideal picture for wheat planting. However, a significant rain event in the third week of September brought an amazing amount of rain to most of the northern wheat areas.

The precipitation bolstered soil moisture back to adequate levels and with planting of wheat expected to begin in the first days of October the precipitation will be deemed a Godsend for those farmers who were facing a tough planting season previously.

Now, there will be enough rain to support aggressive early season planting and crop establishment. Once again, the India rain event, like that in the central U.S. Plains and Europe, has arrived at just about the right time to support the start of what could be a very good winter wheat planting and establishment season.

China

Soil conditions have been drying down across China in the past week as warm temperatures and limited rainfall impacted key wheat production areas. However, rain developed Sept. 20 before advancing southward across the Yellow River Basin, Sept. 21-22 and into east-central portions of the nation Sept. 23-24. The precipitation was nearly ideal in lifting topsoil moisture back to favorable levels.

Wheat seeding across eastern China normally begins in the last week of September and becomes aggressive in October. The recent fall in rainfall was a step forward in supporting that process, but the region will need follow-up precipitation to assure the best crop and field conditions over the next few weeks. Drier weather was expected in the last days of September and early October offering the region an excellent opportunity for supporting wheat planting, emergence and establishment.

Canada

Dryness developed early in the summer across portions of the Prairies. Cool temperatures for a while helped to conserve soil moisture through slower evaporation rates. Since then the region became warmer than usual and precipitation only increased in southern portions of the Prairies. The moisture boost in the south has not seriously improved soil moisture because of the warmer biased temperatures and high resulting evaporation. However, there has been enough precipitation recently to lift topsoil moisture in a favorable manner to support winter wheat seeding.

At the same time the precipitation has slowed spring wheat maturation and harvest progress. Winter crop planting is expected to advance favorably with establishment better than last year, but still in need of greater moisture. The warm and drier biased conditions in spring wheat areas have left crops in good shape with no serious threat to grain quality and a good outlook for continued harvest progress in the next few weeks.

Southeastern Canada produces the majority of the nation’s winter wheat, and weather in the past few weeks has been near to above average on rainfall and a little cooler biased. The wheat crop has been planted and should be establishing well. The region only needs a couple of decent rain events, and there is plenty of time for that before it turns notably colder.
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