Recent very warm weather from southeast Europe through Ukraine, and south and central areas of west Russia has melted protective snow cover across the region.
Temperatures during the most recent weeks have averaged 9 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the region. This has melted most, if not all, snow cover from southeast Europe, to Ukraine, to South Russia. In some cases this is well-ahead of normal dates. We have recently seen reports that winter grains have broken dormancy and begun to green up in southeast Europe and in South Russia. This is five to six weeks ahead of the normal dates, especially as it concerns the South Russia region.
This has not, as yet, caused any harm to the winter grains in the area. In fact, ample late-fall and winter precipitation likely means that this crop is in good shape at the current time.
However, it does leave the crop vulnerable if temperatures turn much lower any time soon. It would probably have to get very cold at this time in order to do damage, since the crops are not yet far enough along to be significantly hurt by just an ordinary type air mass in the region. However, the longer the warmth continues and the further along the development of the crop gets, the more sensitive the crop would be to even an average cold air mass in the region.
This means that it is probably going to be awhile yet before the crops in these areas are safe from a damaging cold event.
The weather patterns that I am seeing at the end of this week show an unusually strong upper level ridge, for this date, forming over Russia just west of the Volga River valley. This should lead to yet another very warm event for Ukraine, west and south Russia later this weekend and early next week. The effects further to the west, in southeast Europe, would not be as dramatic but this area should still see significantly above-normal temperatures. This likely means that crop development will get even further ahead of normal in much of the area. We do see cold weather in this pattern, but the cold is mainly in western and a little of central Europe. It does not, as yet, show signs that it will move into the southeast Europe, Ukraine, west Russia region -- at least not enough to cause undo concern. However, this pattern certainly does bear watching.
As of today, I cannot say that this unusually warm late-winter/early spring for the region will lead to damage to the winter grains. However, I cannot yet rule that out either. The odds of damage this spring do appear to be somewhat higher than usual due to the advanced nature of the weather pattern at this time.
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