Ag Weather Forum

Concerning Dryness for Russia Wheat

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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The European forecast model shows almost no rain for Russia's top wheat production regions through the first few days of October. (DTN graphic)

It's been a tough growing season for Russia's wheat areas. This part of the world is not the wettest to begin with; still, even the relatively light plains-prairie type moisture was hard to come by during the 2020 growing season. The USDA Weekly Crop Weather Bulletin for the week ending Sept. 20 describes a true drought situation:

"Intensifying drought continued to impact much of the region, lowering winter wheat establishment prospects for a second consecutive year. Most of the appreciable rain during the monitoring period (10-55 millimeters) was confined to northern portions of western Russia, with some lighter showers (1-10 mm) spilling into northern Ukraine ... soil moisture remained in very short supply for winter wheat, rapeseed, and barley establishment for the second consecutive year," stated the bulletin.

"Conditions for winter wheat planting and establishment in Russia have deteriorated. Rainfall since Aug. 15 across the Southern District -- from south to north -- has totaled 45% of normal in Krasnodar, 5% in Rostov, and 20% in Volgograd. Moisture will be needed soon before seasonally colder weather ushers winter crops into dormancy across the entire region."

Rain is needed, but the forecast going into the final weekend of September offers hardly any for Russia's wheat areas. The western edge of the Southern District, near the Dnieper River on the border with Ukraine, has some light showers in the European model rain forecast depiction. Otherwise, it's dry across all the primary Russia wheat areas from the shores of the Black Sea east across the Volga Valley, the Ural Region and into Siberia. Add in the influence of a large, warm upper-atmosphere high pressure ridge over the northern latitudes and you keep the dryness in place.

Winter wheat planting in Russia runs through October, so there's still time on the crop calendar for rain to improve the soil moisture profile. However, the pattern stays either well-below normal or completely dry through all of October into early November. The pattern needs to switch character quickly to shape things up to at least some extent for wheat planting.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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