Northwestern Africa: No Significant Rainfall In March
Drought conditions continued during March 2000 throughout the winter grain growing areas of Northwestern Africa. The first soaking rainfall since last Autumn fell across Morocco during the week of April 2 - 8. This rainfall, with amounts ranging from 25 to over 100 millimeters, came too late to improve winter grain yields. Rainfall was more frequent during March in eastern Algeria and Tunisia than in Morocco and western Algeria, but amounts were still below normal. Recent rain in Tunisia did stabilize crop conditions, preventing further reduction in crop yields. The heavy rains of early April where confined to Morocco.
Middle East: Winter Grains Hurt By Dryness In Syria and Iran
Rainfall during March 2000, continued to be below normal across much of Iran and Syria, where rainfall was less than 50 percent of normal across eastern and western Syria and 50 to 75 percent of normal in Iran. Rainfall has been below normal in these areas during the entire winter grains growing season. Temperatures during March were near-normal across most of the region, but temperatures in eastern Syria were 1 - 3 degrees C above normal and temperature across Iran were generally 3 - 5 degrees C above normal. During the first week of April, temperatures rose to 3 - 5 degrees C across much of Syria, and were as much as 7 degrees above normal in eastern Syria and parts of Iran, further stressing winter grains. During March, winter grains are in the moisture critical "filling" stage and by the second week of April, harvesting begins in southern-most growing areas of the Middle East. Harvest begins in Syria in May and can continue into northern Iran into August.
Elsewhere, March rainfall was above normal in western and eastern Turkey, northwest Syria, and Israel. In Israel, March rainfall was up-to 125 percent of normal. In Turkey, precipitation was 150 to 200 percent of normal over much of the western winter wheat growing region. Temperatures were 1 - 3 degrees C below normal in Israel during March, 1 - 3 degrees C below normal in western Turkey, and as much as 5 degrees below normal in eastern Turkey. Above normal temperatures returned to these areas during the first week of April.
Spain: March Rainfall Brings Some Relief
During March 19 - 31, 2000, much needed rain fell across major growing areas of Spain. This rainfall improved topsoil moisture for germinating and emerging spring-sown crops. However, follow-up rain is needed to significantly improve the condition of drought-stressed winter grains in the southern areas. At the end of March, winter grains are usually entering the moisture-critical reproductive stage. In February, unseasonably warm, dry weather stressed vegetative winter grains in Spain. Despite good planting weather during September and October, February was the fourth consecutive month with below normal rainfall, and dryness continued into mid-March. Warmer-than-normal March temperatures, continued to stress winter crops and caused them to develop about 1 to 2 weeks ahead of schedule. During the first week of April, rainfall, in the amounts of 10 to 25 millimeters, was welcome across much of Spain and temperatures were slightly cooler than normal.
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