Western Europe: Wet In North, Favorable in South
During March 2001, above-normal precipitation in most of western Europe caused flooding and delayed fieldwork, including spring grain planting. During April 2001, cooler and wetter than normal weather continued across western Europe, especially the northern growing areas. As of May 5, chronically wet weather continued to delay spring grain and summer crop planting in northwest Europe. During the week of April 29 through May 5, warmer and drier weather crossed Germany, increasing water use, but encouraging crop development. The optimal planting dates for spring grains is during April. In most areas, summer crops such as corn, oilseeds, and sugarbeets are usually planted before the end of May. Rainfall has been frequent across Italy and well timed across the Iberian Peninsula, and warmer temperatures have favored fieldwork and crop development. Unlike their northern neighbors, spring and summer crop planting should be on schedule in these southern countries. Dry weather from April 22 through May 5, has caused some concern for winter grains which were in the reproductive and filling stage in Spain, but moisture reserves are adequate for now.
Northwest Africa: Showers Arrive Too Late To Benefit Winter Grains
Winter grains mature and harvesting begins during May across Northwest Africa. This year grains advanced through their moisture critical reproductive and grain fill stages during April under drought conditions. Dry conditions continued into early May. During April 2001, rainfall was mostly limited to northern Tunisia, where light, but frequent rainfall helped stabilize winter grain from further decline. However, winter grain conditions continued to deteriorate in most of Morocco and Algeria. Light rain fell in northern Algeria and Tunisia in late April, but was of minimum benefit due to lateness of crop stage. Widespread rains finally crossed the region during the week of April 29 through May 5. While this rain will help recharge irrigation supplies, it was too late to benefit winter grains. This was the first significant rain to reach northern Morocco in 9 weeks. Southern Morocco ends their growing season with 16 consecutive dry weeks. Any rainfall at this point would only delay harvest activities.
South Asia: Continued Dry and Hot In Western India
During March 2001, light showers (10 - 25 millimeters or more) moistened topsoils in the northmost winter wheat and oilseed areas of Pakistan and India. However, given the trend of near- to above-normal temperatures, the rainfall was not widespread or heavy enough to significantly improve prospects for rain-fed agriculture. A majority of the winter grains in this area are irrigated. Farther south, unseasonable showers boosted irrigation reserves in south-central India (eastern Maharashtra, northern Andhra Pradesh, and southern Madhya Pradesh) for rabi (winter grown) grains and oilseeds, but may have hampered late cotton harvesting. During April and early May, precipitation remained below normal across western India. In the major winter grain production areas of northern India (Punjab and Haryana) and northern Pakistan, heavy rainfall during mid- to late April interfered with wheat harvesting and may have caused some quality problems. Showers continued to boost moisture reserves for summer crops in eastern India and Bangladesh, while unseasonably heavy rains fell across southernmost India.
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