Today we will look at the key growing areas for winter wheat in the Northern Hemisphere. In most cases we are looking at favorable prospects, but there are some minor exceptions.
Europe winter wheat areas have seen a variable rainfall pattern during the fall and early winter. There has been some concern because of dryness in north-central and southeast Europe at times and in southwest Europe earlier in the planting season. The conditions have improved somewhat in most of the drier areas during recent weeks, but in the driest areas more rain will be needed during spring to promote favorable renewed wheat development.
Western Europe has experienced episodes of wet and in some cases very wet and cloudy conditions, until a recent spell of warmer and somewhat drier weather took hold. Reports suggest that the winter wheat has entered dormancy in relatively good condition in most of north and east Europe.
Conditions currently favor slow development of wheat in southwest and south-central Europe because of prior rains and warm weather. The temperatures are currently averaging above normal in most of Europe.
The forecast suggests the above normal temperature pattern is likely to continue during the next 10 days. The included graphic shows the expected temperature pattern across Europe during this time frame. There is currently no significant snow cover to protect the crop if there was a sudden and as of now unexpected cold snap.
Precipitation is likely to average near to below normal in west-central and south Europe during the next five days with some increase in rainfall likely during the six-to-10-day period, especially in western Europe.
Ukraine, and west and south Russia had issues due to dryness during the middle to late-fall period, along with an above and sometimes well-above normal temperature pattern. Reports suggest that the crop may have entered dormancy in relatively poor condition because of a lack of adequate soil moisture. The region has experienced some increase in precipitation during early winter, but probably not enough to make up for prior losses. There is currently little, if any, significant snow cover in this region. This crop is also vulnerable to damage in the event of a sudden cold snap. The temperature forecast during the next 10 days, at least, suggests that the mostly above normal temperature pattern will continue. There is not much precipitation in the forecast during this period. Unless this weather pattern changes, this crop will need generous spring rains and warm spring temperatures to help it recover from the current dryness.
India and Pakistan winter wheat areas have experienced episodes of rain during the fall and winter. The most recent occurred this week. This crop typically relies heavily on irrigation supplied by the summer monsoon rainy season, but also benefits from winter rainfall when the crop reaches reproductive growth stages. The rainfall that has occurred so far is ahead of the reproductive development of the crop, but I have to believe that the added rainfall, while unusual at this date, is beneficial to this crop, possibly very beneficial. The temperature pattern is more variable in nature, but this is not an area of the world that must worry about low temperatures during the winter period, at least not usually.
China winter wheat areas have recently experienced a dramatic increase in precipitation, since early January. This occurred mainly as rain, but may have also included some snow. Snow cover information is hard to come by for this region, but I would assume that at least a portion of the crop would have a protective snow cover. The added winter precipitation should factor into to improved soil moisture, so long as the ground is not completely frozen. This is a crop that also relies heavily on irrigation but will also do better when precipitation is added into the equation. The temperature pattern in the region is somewhat variable in nature currently. In most cases, above normal temperatures have been the rule but every once in a while a colder air mass has moved into the crop belt. So far, these cold snaps have not been overly concerning but this may be something we would need to be concerned about during the balance of the winter.
Winter wheat prospects in Europe, India and China are currently favorable due to fall or winter moisture and no significant cold weather outbreaks. Ukraine, west and south Russia are going to need increased rain during the spring to help crop recover from current dry conditions. The wheat crops in Europe, Ukraine and China are currently vulnerable to damage in the event of a turn to much colder conditions. China is currently the only one of the three that is under a pattern that might allow for cold weather. However, this could always change as we move into the middle to late winter period.
Joel Burgio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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