Rainfall at below- or well-below-normal levels during both July and August has reduced available soil moisture in key winter grains areas of Ukraine through the West and South Russia crop districts.
July featured rainfall at less than 50% of normal over widespread areas of western Ukraine, including some with less than 25% of normal. The east Ukraine region and South Russia had rainfall less than 75% of normal for many areas. Some local rains were the exception rather than the rule.
Temperatures were also well-above normal. Most of this region averaged from 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month of July, and some areas of western Ukraine had temperatures averaging more than 5 degrees F above normal.
During August, rain averaged less than 25% of normal through vast stretches of west, central and northeast Ukraine, as well as in West Russia and much of South Russia. Rainfall averaging near to above normal was confined to local areas in southeast Ukraine and in the southwest portion of South Russia.
August weather was also very warm to hot. Values were from 5 to 9 degrees F above normal in western Ukraine, while eastern Ukraine through South Russia had temperatures averaging 2 to 5 degrees F above normal during August.
As we moved into September, a brief hot spell took high temperatures to the range of 95 to 100 F in southeastern Ukraine through South Russia. Normal high temperatures for this time of year would be 70 to 75 F. This extreme heat was followed by a more recent cooling trend. This cooler weather came with some rain for the west, but little for the east.
The combination of July and August dry spells, along with the episodes of heat, leaves many winter grains areas short on moisture. Reports suggest that planting has made rapid progress due to the dryness, but most areas will need rain to ensure favorable soil moisture for germination and early development. Without a good rain, crops will likely go into winter dormancy in poor shape, which would leave many areas more vulnerable to winterkill in the event of even normally cold winter weather.
The forecast covering the next 10 days indicates little significant change in the overall dry weather pattern for the region. We note some chance for scattered showers during this period, but no widespread rains are indicated. Temperatures during the period should vary somewhat, but with some tendency for above-normal temperatures at times. In short, we see little chance for improvement in the situation during the next 10 days.
Joel Burgio can be reached at email@example.com
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