Argentina & Brazil: Favorably Moist in Summer Crop Areas
Due to frequent rainfall during December and early January soils are favorably moist across the major summer crop growing areas in central and northern Argentina. However, La Pampa and western Buenos Aires provinces were dry for most of December. This dryness favored wheat harvesting, but the dryness combined with above normal temperatures stressed young summer crops (soybean, sorghum, sunflower and corn) and pastures. During the first week of January, maximum temperatures exceeded 38o C for several days. Beginning January 9, storms brought heavy rainfall and some localized flooding, but greatly improved soil moisture. While rainfall increased to the south during early January, mostly warm and drier weather prevailed across central and northern Argentina. This dryness promoted fieldwork and favored growth, while soil moisture remained adequate. According to the Argentine Agricultural Secretariat as of December 29, nationwide corn was 90 percent planted, with planting left to finish in Entre Rios, La Pampa, and Santa Fe. Soybeans were 91 percent planted, compared with 89 percent last year. First-crop soybean planting was nearing completion, with second-crop soybean planting continuing. Sunflower and sorghum planting was nearing completion except in La Pampa (94 percent finished). Cotton and rice planting was also nearing completion. Wheat was 62 percent harvested.
In southern Brazil, rainfall continued to be frequent but periodic during December 2000, a trend seen in November. During the first week of December, widespread showers continued to provide adequate to abundant moisture for soybeans from Parana northward. Drier weather across Rio Grande do Sul and western Santa Catarina favored soybean planting. From December 10 - 16, widespread showers covered all major soybean-producing regions, maintaining adequate to abundant soil moisture supplies for germinating and vegetative beans. During December 17 - 23, rainfall was lighter in the far south, but again abundant from Santa Catarina north, followed by region-wide heavy rainfall during December 24 - 30. From December 31 through January 6, the heaviest showers again fell across the northern soybean areas of Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, western Bahia, and Minas Gerais. Farther south, drier weather prevailed for the week, but across most major soybean-producing regions, adequate to abundant soil moisture continued to favor vegetative soybeans.
Northwestern Africa: Recent Rainfall Has Benefitted Winter Grains
By mid-November 2000, a lack of early rainfall had delayed fall planting throughout the region. A very slow start to the rainy season in southern Morocco and most of Tunisia greatly limited moisture, and delayed sowing activities. During the first week of December, light to moderate showers fell in northern Morocco, allowing farmers to begin planting. However, only light showers fell in the more arid locations of southern Morocco. Algeria received light showers that maintained minimal moisture levels in western and central Algeria, while rainfall in eastern Algeria remained severely below normal. Only light rain fell in Tunisia. During the week of December 10 - 16, mostly warm and dry weather throughout the region reduced soil moisture for developing winter grains but aided field work. Moderate to heavy rain fell across Morocco during the week of December 17 - 23. This rainfall increased soil moisture and improved prospects for late winter grain planting. Little rain fell that week across Algeria and Tunisia. During the last week of December, moderate to heavy rainfall continued to increase soil moisture across Morocco (especially northern areas), and helped ease dryness in Algeria and Tunisia. During the first week of January 2001, light to moderate showers continued to provide beneficial moisture to winter grains, while easing dryness in southern Morocco. Dry weather returned to Algeria and Tunisia, where little to no rain fell, further depleting soil moisture for winter grains. Most areas in northwest Africa have seen their fall/winter season precipitation totals return to normal, while central and eastern Algeria remains well below normal. After a regional drought last season, which for Morocco followed on the heels of a drought the prior year, a return to normal subsoil moisture levels will require additional rain. While a late start to the winter grains season may reduce grain area, planting in northwest Africa can continue into early January, which may maintain planted area. Regardless of the final area planted, the occurrence of occasional rainfall throughout the rest of the growing season will be crucial for crop development.
South Africa: December Rainfall Maintained Favorable Summer Crop Conditions
Frequent showers and warm temperatures during December 2000 maintained favorable soil moisture for vegetative summer crops across the Maize Triangle of South Africa. It was dry in early October as summer crop planting began, but seasonal rainfall (October through December) was normal to above-normal over most of the country, and crop conditions are generally better than average. The first 10 days of January have been mostly dry and very warm (high temperatures in the mid- to upper 30's C.) with moderate winds. Soil moisture levels are starting to decline, and yield reductions are possible if current conditions extend into February, when summer crops enter reproduction. The South Africa Weather Bureau has issued a long-range forecast (10 - 20 days) which calls for continued warm temperatures and scattered showers in most areas of the country.
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