AGRICULTURAL WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS
January 11, 2002
UNITED STATES: Near-record to record warmth carried over from November into the first 3 weeks of December, followed by the first large-scale cold outbreak of the season. By early in the new year, generally minor freezes were noted as far south as Deep South Texas (January 3) and Florida's northern citrus areas (January 4, 5, 8, and 9). Several hard freezes raised concerns about young sugarcane stands in southern Louisiana, where temperatures below 20 degrees F were noted on January 4. Elsewhere, several precipitation anomalies from late November were repeated in early- to mid-December, including unfavorably dry weather in the East, torrential rainfall from the western Gulf Coast region to the lower Ohio Valley, and drought-easing precipitation in northern California and the Northwest. Dryness was especially severe across the Plains and the southern Atlantic States, further stressing winter wheat. In sharp contrast, persistent rains through mid-December caused lowland flooding and submerged some winter wheat fields from eastern Texas to the lower Ohio Valley.
SOUTH AMERICA: In Argentina, timely late-December and early-January rainfall eased summer crop stress across the western crop areas, following below-normal rainfall during most of December. The drier weather favored winter wheat maturation across Buenos Aires, but heavy late-December rainfall in southern Buenos Aires slowed harvesting and possibly reduced quality. In Brazil, dryness during late December and early January reduced soil moisture across Rio Grande do Sul and southern Parana. Across the rest of southern Brazil, near-normal rainfall maintained adequate soil moisture for soybean development.
EUROPE: Unseasonably cold weather overspread Europe in December, causing winter grains to enter dormancy in most of the west and remain dormant in the east. In eastern Europe, snowfall blanketed dormant crops during the coldest weather, minimizing the threat of widespread winterkill. In northern Europe, near- to above-normal precipitation maintained moisture supplies. In contrast, below-normal precipitation fell across southern Europe, except in extreme southern Spain, southern Italy, and extreme southeastern Europe, where precipitation averaged near normal. .
FSU-WESTERN: A bitterly cold air mass persisted over most of the region in December and early January. Lowest temperatures were observed from December 16-22, 2001, and January 3-9, 2002. In both cases, snow cover was sufficient to protect winter grains from significant damage. However, some isolated damage was possible, especially in southeastern Ukraine, where crops entered dormancy last autumn poorly established.
NORTHWESTERN AFRICA: In December, above-normal rainfall in Morocco allowed planting to proceed after dryness early in the season. Farther east, most of Algeria and Tunisia received well- below-normal rainfall, limiting moisture for newly emerged crops.
MIDDLE EAST AND TURKEY: In Turkey, unseasonable wetness worsened flooding in parts of the southwest but kept winter wheat areas well watered. Unfavorable warmth and dryness returned to Iran in mid-December, but scattered showers continued elsewhere in the region's major winter wheat areas.
SOUTH ASIA: In December and early January, weather conditions favored cotton harvesting. Conditions also favored planting and early development of dry-season crops, including rice, but a cyclone brought localized heavy rain to rice areas of southeastern India. Light showers in northern India aided winter grain and oilseed germination.
EASTERN ASIA: Above-normal precipitation fell across eastern China during the first half of December, improving moisture supplies for winter crops. Only southwestern China (Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan) received below-normal precipitation. Seasonably colder weather caused winter wheat to enter dormancy. In late December, freezing temperatures extended as far south as northern Guangdong, but remained north of the primary sugarcane growing areas.
SOUTHEAST ASIA: Seasonal dryness allowed rice harvesting to proceed throughout Indochina. Above-normal rainfall in the Philippines boosted moisture supplies for second-season crops, but caused some flooding. Unseasonably dry weather reduced moisture reserves for main-season rice in Java, Indonesia. Above-normal rainfall in peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra maintained adequate moisture for oil palm.
AUSTRALIA: In December, winter crop harvesting neared completion, with fieldwork delays confined to southern growing areas of Western Australia and Victoria. Periodic showers and seasonable warmth aided sorghum and cotton in Queensland and New South Wales.
SOUTH AFRICA: Mild, showery weather in December maintained favorable growing conditions for vegetative corn and other summer crops. A recent, gradual decline in shower activity has brought some relief from locally excessive moisture, and enabled late summer crop planting.