U.S. hard red winter wheat country has reported frequent rainfall in recent weeks, but it is interesting to note that the rains outside of the Texas Panhandle have not been nearly as abundant as one might think. With that said, there is room for additional moisture, and what has fallen in recent weeks has been almost perfect for advancing fieldwork while watering in the seed and fertilizer enough to stimulate quick germination and emergence.
The forecast in hard red winter wheat country is still quite promising with additional bouts of timely rainfall slated for the production region well into October. There is some potential for a part of the region to trend a little wetter than usual, but farmers likely will find the moisture of great use to crops, especially in those areas that have been dry in recent years.
Rainfall in the southwestern Plains so far this month has been well above average. Areas from southeastern Colorado and extreme southwestern Kansas through all of western Texas have brought topsoil moisture up dramatically. The wetter bias has greatly improved surface moisture for planting, germination and emergence.
The driest region in the central Plains has been in south-central Kansas, north-central and northwestern Oklahoma and southeastern Colorado. Some producers will explain that the situation is still tenuous and that much greater rainfall is needed. Their wish is likely to be satisfactorily fulfilled in the next few weeks as other bouts of rainy weather impact the region.
Seasonal cooling also will help U.S. central Plains production areas moisten up more efficiently in the next few weeks. In the past, frequent showers and thunderstorms have occurred while daily high temperatures have reached into the 80s and 90s Fahrenheit. That will change in the next few weeks with 70s and 80s expected in the last days of September and early October, and readings by mid-October will be in the 60s and 70s most often. Much less evaporation will take place at those lower temperatures and that will take the above average rainfall expected and translate it into a more notable increase in soil moisture.
Rainfall in China impresses
Mid-September rainfall in China was quite impressive. During a single week rain totals ranged from 3 to more than 7 inches across the region’s most important wheat production region. The area ended up with two to more than four times the usual rainfall in the first three weeks of September. Parts of the production region had been drier than usual prior to the rain event and much of the moisture soaked deep into the ground creating a much improved wheat planting and emergence environment.
China was finishing September with a drier-than-usual bias, and temperatures were close enough to normal that the combined impact was setting the stage for aggressive autumn planting potentials for wheat throughout the nation.
In addition to the improved soil moisture in wheat country, it is extremely important to note that China irrigates the majority of its wheat because of a long dry season that occurs from October through May. The recent rain has bolstered water supply for that irrigation, and the combined impact of favorable soil moisture and abundant water supply will virtually assure a good planting, emergence and establishment season unless some seriously anomalous weather pattern evolves in the next few weeks, which is not anticipated.
Recent soakings in India
India’s monsoon season is ending, but it performed much better in the past two-and-a-half months than it did in the first six weeks of the season. Drought-like conditions that occurred in June and early July have been eliminated by not only well-timed rain events, but by a slightly later-than-usual withdrawal of monsoonal rainfall. The prolonged and beneficial late season rain has recharged water supply — similar to that in China. India produces a huge wheat crop, and if monsoonal rainfall is late withdrawing and abundant prior to ending, the nation often finds the wheat planting season to be quite favorable.
In addition to India’s recent soakings there is potential for El Niño-like conditions to evolve this autumn and winter. If the phenomenon occurs as advertised there may be some timely rain events across wheat production areas to supplement the late summer rainfall while wheat is establishing and approaching reproduction. A wetter bias in January and February cannot be ruled out just yet because of the El Niño evolution potential and if the rain occurs as suggested the nation would be poised to produce a tremendous wheat crop.
Timely rainfall in Australia
Australia is another area of interest from a wheat production perspective. Southern portions of the nation have had some timely rainfall this past autumn and winter. Crops from southern parts of Western Australia to Victoria and southern New South Wales have seen timely rainfall and seasonable temperatures to support good production potentials. There have been some frost and light freezes in recent weeks, but the damage is not suspected of being great enough to seriously harm production.
Timely rainfall is anticipated for Australia during the month of October, and that will translate into favorable production. Some of the east-central parts of the nation are not expected to yield well because of dryness during reproduction. The region impacted only represents 7% of the total production area and there are quite a few production areas that may not yield ideally, but will still produce a fair sized crop. Since the bulk of wheat is produced in southern parts of the nation where wheat development potential is quite high and only a small percentage of the wheat produced in the northeast has been seriously hurt by dryness, the odds favor a good production year.
Europe sees delays in harvesting
Europe weather was quite wet at times during the summer, and that caused a number of delays in small grain maturation and harvesting. Some quality declines occurred, as well, because of excessive rain. But all of that moisture that fell will stay in the soil for an extended period of time offering winter 2015 crops a chance to emerge and establish in a favorable manner.
Autumn is expected to trend a little drier in western Europe while more rain may fall in southeastern parts of the continent. The pattern will be good for winter crop planting in most areas, although the wet bias in the southeast will not be welcome after too much rain fell periodically in recent weeks.
Dryness persists in Ukraine/Russia
Weather conditions in Ukraine and neighboring areas of southwestern Russia have been trending very dry in recent weeks. The first three weeks in September generated 20% to 50% of normal precipitation, and some of the region was also drier biased in August. The situation was not a full blown drought, but the dryness was delaying the onset of wheat and rye germination and emergence. Some producers were holding up on their planting, but the situation was not critical.
Some important rainfall fell a week ago, and that brought topsoil moisture up across many of the drier areas giving winter crops a better environment for planting, emergence and establishment. Additional rain will be needed and some will fall in October, but that event was sufficient to “prime the pump” and induce better crop establishment potential. Some of the neighboring areas of Russia have been a little dry, as well, and they, too, benefited from some of that precipitation. More is needed, but enough has now occurred for a good start on 2015 establishment.
In the meantime, the northern winter crop areas in Russia have had a good mix of rain and sunshine this season to support planting and favorable crop establishment and little change was anticipated.
Situation in Southern Hemisphere
Argentina will see great yields in the southeast, but the west is a little dry and will need some timely rainfall. Rain will continue a little lighter and more erratic than usual in the west this spring, and some modest reduction in yield is expected. Good yields will come from Buenos Aires, Entre Rios and parts of both Santa Fe and La Pampa minimizing the smaller crop from west-central production areas.
South Africa will not produce well this year because of drought in the east, but its role in the world market is quite minimal.
Brazil’s unharvested wheat in the south will deal with some crop quality issues, but production is not likely to change greatly.