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‘Not a Lot of Room for Improvement’ in Argentina’s Conditions, Meteorologist Says

The forecasted rain for Argentina may be too little, too late.

This winter all eyes have been on South America. The grain markets have been reacting to the drought conditions in Argentina for weeks. Meteorologist David Streit of Commodity Weather Group, LLC says, “It’s a situation where there’s not a lot of room for improvement at this point.”

“In Argentina, they continue to lack adequate moisture for corn and soybean development in about two thirds of the belt. Moisture stress is definitely taking a toll on yield potential for the crops as we move through some of the more critical stages of development. In fact, with limited shower activity over the next week, we’ll see that kind of stress continue,” Streit explains. “There is a chance for some showers the following week in the western half of the belt, but probably by then it’ll be a little late to do much to help the corn. It could help some of the soybeans that are filling still. But we are getting a little bit late for any significant turnaround at this point and quite honestly, once that shower event occurs next week, there’s not a whole lot after that.”

The Argentine National Meteorological Service report indicated that chances of rain are highest in the first week of March.

The potential rain event is expected to be within the normal range for the region, .25 to 1 inch total precipitation, says Streit. Radiant Solutions published a report on Monday that said, “Light and scattered showers are possible across Argentina this week, but most of the major growing areas should receive less than 0.5 inches of rainfall, which will allow dryness to persist.”

Meteorologist Kyle Tapley at Radiant Solutions also noted that increasing temperatures, particularly in the southern part of Argentina, will contribute to crop stress in the coming days.

Experts say the La Niña is to blame for the country’s drought conditions. Since the La Niña pattern is not expected to continue into next year, it’s unlikely the drought will persist into next growing season. “Most of the models take us out of La Niña and into a more neutral if not slightly weak El Niño pattern as we go forward,” says Streit. “There is one model that wants to hold onto La Niña, but it’s sort of the outlier right now.”

Brazil

“In Brazil, the moisture situation has definitely been a more favorable one for crop development,” Streit says.

However, there are concerns about the Brazilian soybean harvest and second-crop corn planting due to too much precipitation. “Both of those are going to see some delays due to a fairly active shower pattern in the north half of the belts over the next two to three weeks,” Streit adds.

The Radiant Solutions report indicates the heaviest rainfall is expected in central Brazil this week.

Striet doesn’t expect outright damage or fallow acres due to the rains at this point, but harvest and planting will happen a little slower than normal. The additional soil moisture may prove to be beneficial later in the growing season.

Midwest

As spring gets closer in the U.S., farmers are beginning to think about planting. Farmers in parts of the country may not be able to get into the field as soon as they hoped.

In recent days, heavy rains have been reported across the southern Midwest and southeastern Plains. Extensive flooding in the southeast Midwest and the Delta is causing concern as river levels in Indiana reached record heights. Arkansas and Tennessee are at particular high risk for continued flooding as rains are expected to resume Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Striet says the flooding is severe enough to cause concern for the soft red wheat crop in the far southern parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, along with Arkansas and Kentucky where standing water may cause damage.

“Down in what we call the northern Delta (the Arkansas, Mississippi area), they like to plant corn early and are probably not going to be able to do that this year unless something changes dramatically,” notes Striet.

This week’s southern rains will likely turn to snow as the system arrives in the central Midwest, Tapley writes.

“I think you might run into a snowstorm in the next week up in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Iowa area,” Striet says. “The model is kind of flipping back and forth on it, but I think there’s a pretty decent return for some snow up in that area.”

Looking to next month, Striet says March is likely to be the wettest month of spring 2018. Most of the Corn Belt is looking at near- to above-normal precipitation during the month of March. This far out it’s difficult to predict if there is going to be a late spring freeze.

U.S. Wheat

In western wheat country, Streit expects the crop will continue to struggle. The below-normal precipitation pattern is likely to persist through spring.

“For the big producing areas in portions of western Oklahoma, much of Kansas and down into the Texas panhandle, I’m still not seeing any signs of relief. With this kind of an outlook going forward, I would be surprised if we don’t see some notable yield reductions to the wheat crop out there,” he says. “It struggled through the winter. We had a winter kill event in January that is going to have taken a toll to a certain extent as well. It’s got a lot of things working against it.”

Russia

Looking at wheat on a global level, Streit says the winter wheat situation in Russia is quite good. “They have lots of snow out there to provide them with spring moisture, and I don’t have any big warning flags as far as their development goes. They’ll have a big winter wheat crop.”

While it is a ways out, the areas known for growing spring wheat in Russia may be places to watch, says Streit. Those parts of the country have had a very dry winter, and therefore less snowmelt to boost soil moisture in the beginning stages of the growing season.

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