A heatwave is set to build across Argentina starting this weekend, but intensifying next week. Much of Argentina's primary growing region will be dealing with heat and drought conditions are expected to worsen.
Periods of showers have moved through Argentina recently, but have not been able to put any large dents into the ongoing dryness and drought conditions across the country. According to NOAA and the Climate Prediction Center graphics valid on Nov. 25, soil moisture in Argentina's main growing region of the Pampas is sitting anywhere from 1-10th percentile, or in other words, within the top 10% of the driest conditions for this time of year.
This does not account for the precipitation that fell this week. And in some cases, the rains have been promising. In far northeastern Buenos Aires, near the coast, amounts over 50 millimeters (about 2 inches) have been recorded. The city of Buenos Aires itself, within the area of the worst drought, has recorded 25 mm (about 1 inch) this week.
The rains have been isolated, however, and much lower amounts have been recorded farther northwest and some areas have been completely missed. The soil moisture situation is not going to get any better during the next week as a front clears out the country on Dec. 1 and fairly dry conditions are forecast through at least Dec. 6 and only spotty showers are forecast until maybe Dec. 10. More than likely, the isolated showers will continue and be pushed out by another cold front that weekend.
Between these cold fronts, temperatures are set to rise dramatically. Partially due to the drier soils, temperatures will soar well above normal for this time of year. Anomalies will be some 5 to 11 degrees Celsius (9 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal with daily readings in the northern half of the country approaching or exceeding 40 C (104 F). Closer to the coast and across the far south, temperatures will be much more moderate, but still in the 30s C (upper 80s to upper 90s F) on most days.
With soil moisture continuing to be in short supply, the expanding heat will sap what little is available to plants and continue to cause stress and possible damage. The heat will also continue to delay planting. According to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange on Dec. 1, corn planting is only at 25% complete while soybeans are at just 29% complete. That compares to 39% and 50%, respectively for this time of year. We are now getting into the second phase of corn planting, which is normally paused or very slow during November. Producers are expecting to plant soon, but the dry conditions are not giving these producers much hope for good stands. Long-range models continue to point toward dryness concerns for the country through all of December and likely into January. With little rainfall and soil moisture, heatwaves will continue to be a concern as well. Prospects for Argentina crop production will continue to fall until the weather situation sees some sort of significant reversal.
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John Baranick can be reached at email@example.com
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