Midsummer Weather Outlook - 3

Floods, Drought May Reduce World Wheat Production

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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Widespread drought in the Canadian Prairies and northwestern U.S. and extensive heat in Europe coincide with late-season U.S. rain to imply reduced world wheat harvest size this year. (AgriFood Canada graphic)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Questions about what the world wheat harvest will be in 2015 are prominent going into the Northern Hemisphere midsummer. On an individual nation basis, issues may not mean disaster; but, taken in total, the global wheat pile may look a little smaller after everyone's harvest.

"From early winterkill (U.S.), to crop loss in India, to too much rain in parts of the Southern Plains and eastern Midwest, to serious dry concerns in the northwestern Plains, western Canada and parts of Europe -- this year's wheat crop is facing many more challenges than a year ago and world production will be down this year," said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman.

In the U.S., issues for winter wheat in the Plains and Midwest have been well-covered. But, the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Prairies wheat crops are struggling with very dry and hot conditions. Temperatures from central Montana through Idaho, Oregon and Washington soared to values of 9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit above normal during the week of June 25-July 1.

"The heat in June broke records in the Pacific Northwest. Precipitation has been at a record low as well," noted the weekly western U.S. weather summary by USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service. "In Oregon, January-June precipitation is the lowest ever measured at many SNOTEL sites, with 35 years of record, such as at Mt. Hood. Lower-elevation weather sites, measured over 70 years, also are reporting record-low precipitation since the beginning of the year."

All-time heat for June in the Pacific Northwest includes these record-hot values: Pendleton, Oregon, 109 F; Yakima, Washington, 108 F; Helena, Montana, 103 F. And, Walla Walla notched the highest June reading in Washington state with 113 F.

In the Canadian Prairies, drought is an issue as well for Alberta and Saskatchewan. Alberta's soil moisture rates 71% fair to poor, with only 27% called "good." And, there is little improvement indicated in the forecast. "The upcoming weather pattern will continue to feature mostly isolated to scattered showers across the region every several days ... but without the needed widespread rains," said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Doug Webster. "This appears to be what we should expect for much of July."

Europe's wheat crop also faces a round of intense late-season heat. "Very high temperatures are pushing analysts to revise down their output expectations for Europe," the French consulting firm Agritel noted in a news release Thursday, July 2.

Prospects appear at least average in Ukraine and Russia, but even here, some dryness is taking the edge off wheat potential, noted the USDA weekly weather and crop bulletin for the week ending June 28. "Persistent heat (35-40 degrees Celsius) stressed late-developing winter wheat and summer crops in the southern Volga District, where yield prospects for winter wheat, spring wheat, and summer crops are notably worse than last year," the report said.

With the various issues nipping at the fringes of world wheat production, DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom believes the fundamental supply/demand scenario, taken by itself, is a neutral to bullish one for wheat.

"If, if, IF the U.S. dollar index ever extends its major downtrend, diminished U.S. wheat supplies might finally see some export interest," Newsom said.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at Bryce.anderson@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Bryce Anderson

Bryce Anderson
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