Argentina was already on the drought list once this year with the period from July through October one of the driest in recent memories. The dryness back then was mostly a winter wheat issue, although some of the early corn and sunseed was planted late because of the lack of moisture. Weather conditions in November were much improved, but mid-December weather took a step backward in time, retuning dryness that was thought to be gone for the season. In reality, World Weather, Inc.’s Trend Model correctly predicted the drier bias that has returned. Dryness has not reached critical proportions, but it has potential to become an issue later this summer after a period of correction in both precipitation anomalies and commodity trade.
Topsoil moisture was rated short to very short Dec. 17 and a further loss in moisture was anticipated into the week of Dec. 22 before a short-term bout of improvement evolves into the final days of December.
The changing weather will offer some restricted worry about future crop development during the holidays, but one theme that stands out rather clearly in the trend models is the general lack of soaking rainfall for Argentina. That suggests the nation will at least do battle with dryness on occasion during the summer season and a close monitoring of rainfall will be warranted since continued dryness might reduce production from some areas.
Brazil saturated at points
Soil moisture in Brazil was still rated mostly adequate to abundant as mid-December came and went. Soil conditions at the time of this writing, Dec. 18, were saturated in much of northern Brazil from Espirito Santo, Bahia and Minas Gerais into Tocantins and Goias with a large portion of Mato Grosso also plenty moist. These states represent some important grain and oilseed production areas.
The moisture abundance was advertised to reach into the week of Christmas and then diminish favoring a short-term bout of needed drying. The environment should be favorable for summer crops, although the drier bias might have been more beneficial had it occurred a week earlier.
The final days of December will allow greater precipitation to fall again in southern parts of Brazil where it had been trending drier during mid-December. Dryness was only expected in pockets across the far south and no generalized alarm for crop development was being sounded. With that said, portions of Rio Grande do Sul, Parana, Paraguay and western Mato Grosso do Sul will have another chance to dry out in early January. That will be the next period of time for a close scrutiny of weather patterns to accurately predict the longer range weather outlook.
World Weather, Inc. expects far southern Brazil to deal with some dryness this summer, but no drought and no wide-reaching bout of serious dryness was expected that would seriously hurt production. Just enough worry from Argentina and far southern Brazil will occur in January to help provide stronger trade prices and to maintain a little market premium.
Be cautious, however. With all of the crop seeded this year it will not be easy for lower yields in the south to induce a serious production cut. Higher area seeded likely will counter much of the lower yields that may evolve in the south. Northern Brazil production will be fine as long as too much rain does not become a serious issue.
Favorable world wheat areas
Most of the wheat production areas around the world are suspected of dealing with generally favorable weather. There have been bouts of threatening cold in portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana this autumn due to bitter cold conditions without sufficient snow cover to protect crops. In most cases, the cold was only borderline cold enough to induce damage, and with today’s hybrids some of the small grain crop is more tolerant of borderline damaging temperatures. Nearly all of the winterkill threat incidences occurred after crops had sufficiently hardened for winter, further reducing the risk of crop damaging conditions.
Dryness is a concern for places such as Spain, Portugal, Morocco, northwestern Algeria, Turkey and a few locations in Syria. A part of the North China Plain also has been a little drier biased this autumn and greater precipitation will be needed prior to reproduction to assure the best yields.
Snow cover is present in most of the western Commonwealth of Independent States, but Europe and most of China wheat country is snow free. Snow is on the ground in much of the lower U.S. Midwest but is absent in the central and southern Great Plains.
Harvest weather in Australia, South Africa and Argentina has been relatively good. There have been some brief periods of rain that have interfered with harvesting, but very few areas have suffered a loss in in quality because of too much rain.
The prospects for winter grain around the world includes little change in India, China, North Africa, Europe, the western CIS or the United States during the coming few weeks. Harvesting in the Southern Hemisphere should conclude favorably without much of a grain quality risk. Bouts of cold may be most frequent and significant in the United States, where other threats of winterkill will evolve periodically, but the impact should not be very great.
Some improvement in low soil moisture is expected in southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East during January as stronger high pressure evolves aloft over the arctic.