Dryness has been a common theme over Russia this year. Russia is a place in the world that does not normally see heavy rainfall has been especially devoid this summer. According to the USDA Crop Progress Report, rainfall across the Southern District since Aug. 5 has totaled 25% of normal in Krasnodar, 10% of normal in Rostov, and less than 25% of normal in Volgograd. In terms of accumulated precipitation, almost the entire winter wheat area saw less than 10 millimeters (0.40 inches) of rain in all of September.
Added in was an extended period of heat across the region that routinely saw temperatures eclipse 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), which might remind you of the U.S. Southern Plains, a comparable growing region for winter wheat.
Soil moisture in the region has therefore suffered greatly. Satellite estimates for soil moisture observe that the entire region has below-normal soil moisture, as of Sept. 25, the latest observation.
Reports of producers holding off planting until significant rains come should raise alarms should establishment be weak before the winter chill arrives -- especially since Russia is the third-highest producing country. Typically, frosts in this part of the world start in early November in northern growing areas and late November in southern growing areas. There is only a five-to-eight-week period before the region sees winter come into play. If seeds cannot germinate during the next couple of weeks, the results may be disappointing.
The forecast offers little to no help for producers in the short-term. A large dome of high pressure will continue to reside atop the area, leading to continued dry weather through at least Oct. 7. Some showers may develop over the Caucus region through Oct. 2, but amounts will generally be less than 10 mm and will likely not offer enough moisture for germination to begin.
Otherwise, producers may decide to wait until the latter half of October to plant as weaknesses in the high pressure may begin to emerge. But this would put crops at risk of not establishing a sufficient root system ahead of the bitter winter months.
John Baranick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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