South Africa: Showers Stabilize Conditions Across the Corn Belt
Unfavorably dry and hot weather in January 2001 reduced soil moisture and stressed early reproductive corn and summer crops across the Maize Triangle of South Africa. The hottest weather was recorded early in January, prior to crop reproduction. Temperatures remained elevated throughout the month and showers were unevenly distributed across the corn belt, forcing crops to rely on subsoil reserves. The pattern of drier- and warmer-than-normal weather continued over the western portions of the corn belt through February 10, stressing reproductive to filling summer crops. Showers were "patchy" in the east. The following week, scattered showers helped stabilize filling summer crops across the corn belt, although seasonable warmth maintained high crop moisture demands. During the week of February 18 - 24, moderate to heavy rain covered the corn belt, greatly benefitting filling summer crops. Light-to-moderate showers lingered over the corn belt from February 25 through March 3, but mostly dry weather was forecast for the following week. Additional March rainfall will be critical in helping filling summer crops reach their yield potential. Corn typically reaches maturity in April and is harvested from May through July.
Northwestern Africa: Winter Grains Near Heading With Limited Moisture Reserves
During the last half of December 2000, the first substantial rains of the growing season fell on winter grain areas in southern Morocco. This prompted widespread planting, which had been slowed by the previous dryness. Winter grains in northern Morocco received intermittent showers throughout the month, aiding winter grain emergence and early plant establishment. Farther east, below-normal precipitation fell over winter grain areas in Algeria and Tunisia, with crop areas in western Algeria receiving less than 50 percent of normal rainfall. Although the dryness in these areas favored fieldwork for winter grain planting, it reduced moisture needed for crop emergence and establishment. In January 2001, near- to above-normal precipitation improved moisture conditions for winter grain development in northern Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. A drying trend since early January in southern Morocco has limited moisture for vegetative crops. During the first 10 days of February, only light and widely scattered showers fell across Morocco and Algeria, providing limited moisture for vegetative winter grains. In Tunisia, heavy showers fell across the winter grain area, increasing soil moisture for developing crops. From February 11 - 24, dry weather continued for the most part across the region. Soil moisture was becoming critical as winter grains approached the heading stage. During February 25 through March 3, light-to-moderate showers eased dryness and increased soil moisture in northern Morocco. This rain again missed southern Morocco. Western Algeria received light showers that week, further aiding soil moisture reserves, as did eastern Algeria and Tunisia. The heaviest rains were limited to the coast. Additionally, during the month of February average temperatures in northwest Africa were 1- 3 degrees C above normal, increasing evaporative losses to already low soil moisture.
In early March, winter grains are in the vegetative stage across the region. Winter grains enter the heading or reproductive stage from mid-March into April. Rains did return to northern Morocco on March 7th and some areas in southern Morocco saw some badly needed showers as a low pressure system moved in from the west.
Eastern Europe: Persistent Drought Continues in South; North Faring Well
During January 2001, snow fell across parts of southeastern Europe, but amounts were well below normal, continuing the long-term drought which has now lasted an entire year. During the first week of February, some precipitation fell across the region, where the heaviest amounts were limited to the western Balkans. Romania and Bulgaria received no precipitation. Widely scattered and light precipitation crossed the region during the week of February 11 - 17, amounts were limited to less than 10 millimeters. From February 18 - 24, widely scattered light rain and snow fell across southeastern Europe. Portions of Serbia received 10 - 25 millimeters, while most other countries received 10 millimeters or less. The big boost in moisture finally occurred during the week of February 25 through March 3. Heavy rain (50 - 100 millimeters or more) fell across the western Balkans. Bulgaria and Romanias growing areas received 10 millimeters or more.
During the month of February, temperatures averaged 1 - 3 C above average in northeastern Europe, while in the south, temperatures were 3 - 5 C above average. Precipitation totals recorded in the Balkans were well below average for the winter months of December, January and February. Romania recorded just 40 percent of its normal precipitation, Bulgaria received 50 percent and Serbia only 77 percent. Given the persistent drought in the Balkans, soaking rain will be needed this spring to ensure adequate crop development. Meanwhile, countries in northeastern Europe averaged just slightly below their normals for precipitation, and appear to be in good shape for spring as to moisture reserves. A mild season minimized winterkill as temperatures bottomed out in the negative teens (Celsius) only twice during the season in Poland, and in a season of little snowfall, crops were fortunate to be protected with snow cover each time.
Return to the Table of Contents[images/pecad_timefooter.html]