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Europe Mars Bulletins

28 September 2012

Europe Mars Bulletins Vol. 20 No. 09Europe Mars Bulletins Vol. 20 No. 09

Further decrease of maize yields in southern and eastern Europe.
Supplied by: MARS BULLETIN – EC - JRC

Very high temperatures and scarce rainfall characterised the weather conditions in southern and southern-east Europe until the end of August before a more seasonal temperature regime was established in September. The hot spell continued to be coupled with scarce rainfall and led again to decrease summer crops yields in the affected countries compared to the last Bulletin.

In general weather conditions were more favourable in central and western Europe providing average growing conditions for summer crops. Some concerns due to overly wet soils remain for the British Isles. Grain maize yield at EU 27 level is revised down since our last Bulletin (-3.7 %).

In comparison to 2011, grain maize yields are projected to be -20 % lower due to sharp yield decreases in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Italy. Potato, sugar beet and sunflower yields at EU 27 level are kept stable compared to our last Bulletin. Since the harvest of winter cereals throughout Europe is almost finished and apart from the British Isles no adverse conditions were encountered during the harvesting period our forecasts from August are confirmed as the crop model simulations are at the end of the growing period.

Agro-Meteorological Overview

Very high temperatures and scarce rainfall characterised the weather conditions in South and South-East Europe until end of August before a more seasonal temperature regime established in September. The hot spell continued to be coupled with scarce rainfall. In general weather conditions were more favourable in central and Western Europe providing average growing conditions for summer crops. Some concerns due to overly wet soils remain for the British Isles.

In the last dekad of August hot weather in Southern and Eastern Europe continued. Mean daily air temperature was +3–4°C higher than the long-term average (LTA) in Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece, as well as in southern Ukraine, southern Germany, southern Poland, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia. As during most of August maximum temperatures often exceeded 30°C and even peaked above 40 °C in some regions of Bulgaria and Romania.

This hot weather further extended the long lasting heat waves in several regions of Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Italy and Ukraine to more than 3 weeks, thus further intensifying the negative effects and decreasing further the already moderate yield expectations.

With the beginning of September more seasonal temperatures returned to Southern and Eastern Europe with average air temperatures slightly above the long term average. Maximum values still climb above the 30°C but extreme hot days (above 35°C) are rare now and within the seasonal norm.

Apart from the Southern and Eastern European countries also Southern and Central Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and most of France experienced above temperature accumulation in the observation period (Aug. 21 to Sep. 15). On the other hand the British Isles, Scandinavia and the Baltic States show a normal temperature accumulation. In general hot days (above 30 °C) were absent in these regions. A few days above 30°C are recorded for France, Germany and Poland.

During the entire period considered rain was absent in Spain, some regions of France (e.g. Aquitaine) and in wide parts of Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania further increasing the water deficit. A decisive lack of precipitation since June is recorded for the Iberian Peninsula, Northern Italy, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria that goes along with depleted soils moisture contents under summer crops.

Weather Forecast for the Coming Days: 16 to 28 September

Much rain and low temperatures for north-western Europe. Intense precipitations in most of France and northern Italy. Drier and warmer conditions in southern Italy, Balkans and most of the Black Sea Area.

The precipitation regime over the study period is characterised by 3 main atmospheric perturbations. A first perturbation covers eastern Europe, and fades out towards the Caucasus by 22 September. Eastern and south-eastern Europe then remain mostly dry during the rest of the period leading to higher than normal temperatures all around the Black Sea.

More hot days (above 30°C) than usual are still expected during the forecast period over the Balkans, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. By September 22 another strong perturbation appears on the other side of the continent, provoking intense rainfall on the Atlantic coast which then centres on Scotland and spreads over most of north-western continental Europe.

A synchronous drop in temperature is expected over this area, resulting in lower than average temperature sums for northern France, Benelux countries, Scandinavia, Britain and Ireland. A third perturbation finally appears in the Iberian Peninsula around 25 September where temperatures will remain quite warm despite the rain (more so than normal).

The perturbation will then move towards France and northern Italy, leaving few days without rain in this area. As a result of all these rainy events, the highest daily and cumulated precipitations occur in France, northern Italy, Britain and Scandinavia. Germany, Poland, Ukraine, southern Italy, the Balkans, Bulgaria and Turkey remain drier than normal.

Pastures in Europe – Update Remote Sensing Monitoring

The negative meteorological conditions experienced during July and especially in August, in Italy and Black Sea countries with hot temperatures and scarce precipitations have severely limited pastures growth. Biomass production is quite favourable in central and northern Europe.

In Spain and Portugal, the season has finished in the Dehesa, the main producer region of the Iberian Peninsula, strongly affected by persistent dry conditions along all the season. Only in the Cantabrian basin (Asturias, País Vasco) the season is still on-going with average production levels.

In northern Italy, Romania and Hungary, the hot and dry spell affecting southern Europe during the months of July and August stopped the positive evolution of pastures after spring. The sharp increase on the evaporative demand couldn’t be compensated by rainfalls, infrequent and scarce, resulting in a dramatic reduction of biomass accumulation.

In France and southern UK the season, up to now, has been quite satisfactory, with abundant precipitations along the season and warm temperatures during the last month favouring biomass production. The outlook for Ireland and northern UK is on the average, since pastures growth has been limited by a deficit on incoming solar radiation due to a continuous cloud cover along the summer. Expectations are also close to normal for the Benelux.

Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are maintaining production levels above seasonal values, favoured by warm temperatures during summer. Similar conditions have been observed for Denmark, Finland and Sweden. In Central Europe the evolution of pastures during summer is quite positive as well, especially in Czech Republic, Austria and southern Germany, where substantial rainfalls registered in August allowed to keep biomass production high.

Country Analysis

European Union

Compared to our last Bulletin grain maize yield at EU 27 level is revised down (-3.7 %). In comparison to 2011, grain maize yields are projected to be -20 % lower due to sharp yield decreases in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Italy. Potato, sugar beet and sunflower yields at EU 27 level are kept stable compared to our last Bulletin. Since the harvest of winter cereals throughout Europe is almost finished and apart from the British Isles no adverse conditions were encountered during the harvesting period our forecasts from August are confirmed as the crop model simulations are at the end of the growing period.

France – Summer Crops Harvest Start in Favourable Conditions

During the last two months, very scarce rainfall was registered in the Centre and Atlantic regions; therefore complementary irrigation was needed to maintain grain maize yield potentials. Summer crops expectations are on average.

Temperatures registered during the last two months were close to the standard values in almost all regions, with the exception of South East, where August was especially warmer than usual. From mid-August on, the precipitations registered were very scarce, particularly in the Atlantic basin and Centre regions. However, overall rainfall regime along the summer season, with abundant precipitations registered in May and June, has been sufficient to help maintaining the yield potentials of summer cereals.

Sunflower is currently reaching maturity in southern regions and harvesting is starting. Expectations are on average, thanks to sufficient rainfall along the crop vegetative development from May to July. The grain maize season is finishing as well –ripening has been reached in almost all regions– and favourable weather is expected for the beginning of the harvest period. Rainfall scarcity during the last month has made irrigation necessary to avoid major crop water constraints, and therefore average yields are expected far from the exceptional results of the last season.

Potato is currently being harvested in the North East, with expectations fairly close to the results of the last five years. The dry climatic conditions of the last month have mitigated the eventual effect of diseases, appeared after a humid first half of summer. Crop indicators suggest as well average yields for sugar beets.

Centre (FR)

Germany – Summer Crops Maintain Good Yield Potential

Beneficial crop growing conditions throughout August and September with a rain surplus in the south of the country. Harvest without obstacles and winter cereals yields are satisfying. Summer crops benefitted from the growing conditions and maintained their good yield potential.

After plentiful rain in June and July benefitting summer crops and ensuring adequate grain filling for cereals August saw fewer rainy days. Most of the country experienced a rainfall deficit with the exception of the South where a large surplus was recorded. With the beginning of September rainfall events also decreased in the South and rainfall sums for the first half of September are in general well below the long term average across the country. The relatively stable weather in August and September guaranteed good harvesting conditions. The temperature regime in August was rather seasonal with a gradient from the North (cooler) to the South (warmer). Consequently the same holds for the accumulated temperature with a surplus of 5 to 20 % in the South. A couple of hot days above 30°C were recorded but no more than 2 -5 consecutive days without negatively impacting summer crops. The short heat wave was around the 20th of August with the highest values recorded in Brandenburg and Sachsen (up to 38°C). The beginning of September saw a drop in temperatures but temperatures climbed up again to reach values above 30°C in eastern Germany as well as in Nordrhein-Westfalen and Hessen.

These weather conditions translated into good growing conditions for summer crops and the harvest of winter crops didn’t face severe obstacles. According to our model simulation grain maize has reached maturity in the South and is mostly at ripening stage in the remaining part of the country. The forecast is not as high as in 2011 but clearly above the 5 years average as all our indicators point to a good result. Potato, sunflower and sugar beet are forecast above the 5 years average as well.

Poland – Mostly Favourable Weather Conditions During Harvest

In most regions rain-free periods allowed cereals to be harvested, however grains are wet. Maize and tubers continued average development.

According to cumulated values of temperature, thermal conditions were similar to the long term average. However, temperatures varied in time reaching unusually low and high values alternately. Apart from south-western regions, where cumulated rainfall exceeded average values by 10-15%, the rest of Poland received slightly less rain than average. Relatively dry conditions allowed harvesting winter cereals, which, as previously forecast, should reach around-average yields. Only triticale is expected to have 10% lower yield than in last five years due to intensive frost kill damage. Maize was still in the grain filling stage in the northern regions, while in ripening in the rest of the country. Close to average water-limited storage organs values point to slightly above-average yield. Similarly, the season is good for tubers. Based on modelled above-ground biomass and water-limited storage organs, yield prognosis was warily increased.

United Kingdom and Ireland – Mixed Results After Harvest Delays

Abundant rainfall delays and complicates winter crop harvests. Impact on yields is more variable with winter wheat well below average but winter barley and rapeseed slightly above for UK. Mediocre weather in Ireland results in below average yields for all crops.

Arable land over the eastern part of England was drier than usual during the period from 21 July to 15 September. In Ireland, Scotland and the Southwest of England it rained considerably more than normal and rainless days have been relatively rare. Ireland further suffered from a strong reduction of solar radiation. Arable land in the Midlands and East of England, on the other hand, benefited from more sunshine that what is habitual. Average temperatures have overall been slightly warmer than usual.

After a difficult season, the rain in many parts has further complicated and delayed the harvest of winter crops. Winter wheat yields in UK have been seriously revised down in line with reports from several external sources. Winter barley and rapeseed which are harvested before wheat, apparently fared better despite the difficult conditions. Yield estimates have been slightly increased accordingly. Outlook for spring barley in UK remains low given how the rain has seriously delayed harvest in Scotland. In Ireland, cereals end with lower than average yield as weather has remained mediocre throughout the season. Potatoes are also suffering from excessive humidity and lack of global radiation in Ireland and Scotland, while the season appears average in England. Sugar beet growth simulations also indicate close to average storage organ accumulation for UK. The yield estimate remains close to average.

Spain and Portugal – Average Outlook for Summer Crops

Temperatures slightly above the seasonal values during summer benefited the development of summer crops; harvest is currently on-going in favourable conditions. The irrigation campaign has evolved in absence of major water constraints and yields are therefore expected on the average.

Infrequent rainfalls and warm temperatures have been the leitmotiv of the current summer season. In almost all regions temperatures registered during the last two months were placed slightly above the seasonal values, with the exception of some areas in Castilla y Leon and the Atlantic basin. The dry conditions observed along the summer persisted in all the Iberian Peninsula with very scarce rainfalls, compared to normal values. Significant precipitations have been recorded only at specific locations in the Cantabrian Sea regions, Galicia and Cataluña.

Summer crops season is about to finish in the South, where sunflower has been already harvested and grain maize is currently on-going.

Sunflower was negatively impacted by the unfavourable weather conditions observed, resulting in expected yields distinctive below the average of the last years. In the case of irrigated crops, despite of the scarcity of precipitations, the irrigation season seems to be finished without major constraints, especially in the South (Extremadura and Andalucía) where water stored was sufficient to satisfy the crop requirements thanks to a rainy 2011 year. In some areas of Castilla y Leon, where maize is still at grain filling stage, irrigation restrictions were moderate. Therefore grain maize yields are expected to remain near the average, but these results should be confirmed in the next month, when northern regions will initiate harvesting. Expectations for sugar beet –already harvested in the South– and potato points towards yields similar to the last years as well.

Castilla Y Leon (ES)

Italy and Slovenia – Maize Yields Revised Down Again

A dry spell and prolonged heat waves during the summer have seriously affected summer crops and yields are revised down according to our model simulations.

Very high temperatures and scarce rainfall characterised the summer in Italy and Slovenia. In Northeast and Central Italy a lack of significant rainfall occurred, prolonging the dry conditions and creating a serious water deficit. In this area, from July to August, the cumulated rainfall has been substantially lower (-100 %) than the long-term average (LTA). Moreover, very high temperatures above 35 ºC were recorded for several days pushing cumulated evapotranspiration values clearly above the average. In Northeast Italy very high temperatures combined with a dry spell produced a substantial decay in the photosynthetic activity of summer crops, as confirmed by remote sensing indicators. In Emilia Romagna and Veneto the very high transpiration demand has decreased significantly the biomass accumulation of maize. Also, in many cases, irrigation was insufficient to respond adequately to the increased crop water demand due to lower water availability and the very long heat wave. The critical flowering phase for maize took place during a long heat wave with irreversible damage at potential yield. Similarly, in North and Central Italy, sunflower and sugar beet show simulated values of biomass and storage organs below the average. Summer crops have been already harvested in many areas and as dry conditions lasted till harvest yield estimates are revised downwards again.

Hungary – Serious Drought Heavily Impacting Production

Hungary this summer experienced one of the most serious droughts of the last 20 years. Scarce rainfall in August increased the water deficiency of soils further and constrained the grain filling of maize and the growth of all crops. The yield expectations are very low for all crops. The situation is very unsatisfactory in the southern and eastern regions though it is slightly better in Nyugat-Dunantul and Eszak-Magyarorszag regions.

During August and the first dekad of September hardly any precipitation was recorded in the wide central territories of Hungary aggravating the serious drought situation. The cumulated rainfall remained below 10 mm for most of the country and reached only 10-20 mm in some areas along the western and eastern border. Additionally the thermal conditions were also extreme. The temperature exceeded mostly the average with the only exception of the second dekad of August and mid-September. In western and northern regions 15-20 hot days (Tmax>30°C) were experienced during the considered time period, meanwhile in the central and southern districts 20-32 hot days were observed. The high number of hot days is double or more (120-150%) of the climatologically expected frequency. From September 12 significant precipitation arrived to the western half of Hungary and the temperatures dropped suddenly, but in East-Hungary continued the warm and dry weather.

The long lasting drought had very negative effects on the grain filling of maize and lowered yield expectations to the minimum. Nevertheless there are big spatial differences. The worst fields are/have been harvested as green maize for silage which could lead to a significant decrease of grain maize acreage. Early harvest is probable for all summer crops especially for maize due to the accelerated crop development because of the recurring heat waves and dryness. The more drought tolerant sunflower suffered also from water deficiency, but yield losses are more moderate compared to other summer crops. In the case of potato and sugar beet a forecasts are lowered significantly. Additionally the dry soil could require extra energy to dig out these crops.

Romania – Drought Reduced Maize and Sunflower yields

The average temperature of the considered period was 2-3°C higher than usual in Romania. The cumulated rainfall of August remained 25-65% below the average and just some areas in the Sud-Est region experienced plentiful precipitation. The heat-waves and water shortages of this summer coincided with flowering and grain filling of maize and sunflower resulting in a clear deterioration of biomass formation and severe negative impact on final yields. Crop model simulations indicate low yields for the sugar beets too.

Especially the first and last dekad of August were hot, when the maximum values exceeded +35°C for several days. In September thermal conditions became slightly moderate, but remained warmer than usual. The rainfall in August improved the soil water balance but without reaching normal levels. September was dry until mid -month. The climatic water balance is showing a deficit of > 150 mm all over the country and over 200 mm in Centru and Nord-Est regions for the 1st June - 15th September period proving the existence of a serious drought situation.

The higher than average temperatures unfavourably shortened the crop cycle of maize and sunflower reaching maturity in advance at the end of August or beginning of September. A decrease of maize acreage is probable, due to premature harvest of damaged fields as green maize. Potato completed its cycle also earlier and the long lasting hot and dry spell could have decreased the yield significantly e.g. in Centru region. Sugar beet is still in yield formation, although probably being significantly compromised, though it still could take some advantage of the autumn rains (if any) in the final stages of development.

Bulgaria – Unfavourable Hot and Dry Weather Persisted

The drought continued in Bulgaria, as unusually high temperatures and low rainfalls were recorded in August and September. The heat-waves accelerated crop development and induced an early senescence. The low soil moisture content was inadequate to subsidise the grain filling of maize and sunflower.The simulated yield for the other summer crop is also very low.

The hot and dry weather continued throughout August in Bulgaria. The first dekad of the month was characterized by a hot spell. Daily maximum temperatures exceeded 30°C and around 7th of August reached high peaks of more than 40 °C on the northern territories. Mid-August temperatures dropped, but a recurring heat wave was experienced during the last dekad of August. The maximum temperatures exceeded again the 40°C limit in several places around 25th August. September so far was characterised with above average thermal conditions until mid of the month. Some scarce, local precipitation events at the beginning of August had no significant effect on the crops. The dry spell was interrupted partially around 10th August with some significant rainfalls in the northern and western regions. From mid-August the weather turned dry again and cumulated precipitation remained below 10 mm for the cultivated areas.

The phenological development of all crops is advanced or very advanced, accordingly an early harvest is probable. The early senescence of leaves and premature decrease of leaf area is typical due to the unfavourably high temperatures and water shortage for all non-irrigated crops. Water scarcity in combination with the hot waves touched badly the maize crop being in grain filling. The rain of mid-August was not sufficient to replenish the soil moisture and was only able to ease plant stresses temporarily. The simulated maize and sunflower biomass profoundly below the long term average as well as our yield forecasts do.

Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia – Grain Quality Reduced by very high Temperatures During Maturation

High temperatures continued through August with two peaks during the first and the last dekad of this month. These conditions may have affected yields and grain quality especially in eastern Austria and western Slovakia. As a consequence, grain maize yield was revised down. Sunflower, sugar beet, potato, and winter crops forecast are unchanged.

The warm conditions in July continued through August. Two temperature peaks were registered during the first and the third decade of this month when maximum temperatures reached 35°-36°C, well above the threshold of twice the standard deviation. As a consequence cumulated active temperature was above the long term average in the three countries. In general rainfalls were around the long term average in the three countries with the exception of the Zapadne Slovensko region in western Slovakia. In this region, the same dry and warm conditions already registered in July persisted during all August determining an evaporation rate above the long term average and a consequent negative climatic water balance.

These conditions may have affected yields and grain quality of grain maize during ripening and maturation in the three countries and especially in Slovakia. As a consequence grain maize was revised down. Sunflower, sugar beet, potato, and winter crops forecast are unchanged.

Denmark and Sweden – Overall Positive Conditions for Crops

Dry weather allowed favourable harvest conditions for winter crops and the positive forecast for winter and spring crops has been confirmed.

During the observation period, from 21 July until 15 September, temperatures around the long-term average (LTA) were recorded while global solar radiation was above LTA, mainly in Denmark. In this period rainfall was about 10 - 30 % below average in Denmark and in Södra Sverige; in Norra Sverige the rainfall recorded was more than 30 % above average. In Denmark and Södra Sverige dry weather during the second dekad of August allowed favourable harvest conditions of winter crops; by contrast wet conditions in Norra Sverige have hampered the harvest. According to our models, for winter crops the satisfactory yield expectation has been confirmed, thanks to good weather conditions during the ripening stage. The harvest of spring barley just ended and yield is forecast to be above the 5-year average. Similarly, the season is good for root crops and according to the simulated values of biomass and storage organs, yield forecast was revised up. Potato shows good perspectives for the coming harvest but could suffering from excessive humidity in the next week.

Finland and Baltic States – Good Season for Winter Wheat

Average temperatures and average global radiation accumulation during the season together with good weather during the harvest led to good yields especially for winter wheat.

Thermal conditions in the study period (July 21st to September 15th) have been favourable for crop growth and development. Temperature accumulation has been very close to average values, as well as accumulated global radiation. Due to this most of the crops reached maturity on time. Precipitation is a very important factor during the ripening and harvesting stage, especially in Nordic agriculture as too abundant rainfalls decrease the yield, as well as the quality of the crops, especially cereals. During the study period there was less rain than usual in Latvia (-30%) and Lithuania (-14%) and slightly higher than usual in Estonia(+3%) and Finland (+11%). In practically harvest in Latvia and Lithuania was conducted in more favourable conditions than usually. The rainfall distribution was unfavourable in Finland during the first week of August. The excess of rainfalls created problems to harvest, but fortunately was not long enough to create adverse effects on crop quality. Later rainfalls decreased and approached to average value.

There are just several crops remaining on the fields that will be harvested soon.

Conditions for soil cultivation and planting of winter crops are average and it is expected to be conducted on time.

Our yield forecasts for most crops are close to the 5 year average. The biggest yield increase is forecast for soft wheat and triticale for Latvia and Lithuania where harvest seems to be very good and forecast yield is 7-8% higher than 5 years average and about 20% higher than last year.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg – Dry End of Summer Provides Positive Outlook

Decent conditions for harvest during late summer should result in slightly above average cereal yields. Favourable global radiation, temperature and precipitation regimes should boost summer crops in Belgium, where these crops had started with difficulty and in the Netherlands, where the season appears overall quite positive.

Summer has been considerably drier in Luxembourg, Belgium and the southern Netherlands, resulting in cumulated precipitations well below average, while several parts in northern Netherlands have had considerably more rain than normal. However, throughout the whole Benelux region, rainy periods have been separated by relatively long stretches of dry days, opening the possibilities for decent harvesting conditions for winter crops. Yield estimations remained unchanged: cereal yields generally stand around or above average, rapeseed slightly below. Both temperature and global radiation have been slightly above the long-term average, resulting in favourable conditions for growth and development of summer crops. These are welcome, particularly in Belgium where the potatoes and sugar beets started badly due to delayed sowing and excessive rain. Despite the improvement of meteorological conditions, yield forecasts have been maintained below average for all summer crops in Belgium due to uncertain repercussions of the beginning of the season. In the Netherlands the conditions appear generally more favourable for the proper development of these crops. Model simulations indicate higher potential biomass of storage organs than average and yield forecasts are, accordingly, above the average.

Greece and Cyprus – Average Yield Scenario for Summer Crops

Favourable temperature regime and other weather parameters seem to be acting as pivot for development of summer crops. Hence, an average crop performance expected.

The current analysis period which lasted until 15th of September showed a mixed picture of weather indicators in the last two months characterised by favourable temperature development and solar radiation but with erratic and scarce rainfall events which affected the soil water balance. Although the crop production may not be hampered in view of water availability for irrigation. The yield forecast for grain maize has been revised down. For rest of the crops normal yield is forecast..

Barley yield in Cyprus is again set close to five-year average value owing to favourable growth conditions.

Black Sea Area

Turkey – Crop Yield on an Average Level

Crop yield benefitted from the prevailing favourable weather conditions characterised by ample rainfall and a positive temperature regime. Close to five-year average yield values are forecast for grain maize.

Meteorological conditions in the study period (July 21st to September 20th) have been adequate for the crop development as reflected by temperature development and continuous events of rainfall mainly in the maize producing areas that more or less ensures good yield expectations. Therefore, the grain maize yield forecast is set at value close to last five-year average values. The growing season of wheat and barley is already over and owing to a conducive environment their productivity is also expected to be unaffected and remains at average.

Dogu Marmara (TR)

Ukraine – Despite a Difficult Maize Season in the North-East Average yields

Harvesting activities in the eastern oblasts slightly hampered by rain. Maize development varying significantly among regions, but overall pointing to the average yield.

Meteorological conditions in the study period (July 21st to September 15th) varied notably in time and space. Average temperature was 2-3°C higher than the long term average in the central and southern oblasts (temperature sums: +10%). The period under analysis was characterized by large changes in temperature. Exceptionally high values occurred in 3rd dekad of July, 1st and 3rd of August, and 2nd of September, while middle and 3rd dekad of August and 1st dekad of September brought significant drops in temperature. Abundant rainfall in the eastern oblasts (e.g. +60% in Dnipropetrovska, Zaporizka and Kharkivska +45%) hindered harvesting activities, but important losses are not expected. Concurrently southern oblasts received less rain than the long term average (e.g. Vinnytska -30%, Mykolayivska -40%, and Odeska and Krym -60%). Harvest of cereals was completed and previously forecast yields were now confirmed. Maize maturing in most of the regions continued to have a difficult season. In the western oblasts it developed on average, whereas in the north-eastern regions of the highest production, storage organs are modelled at less than 50% of average values. This points to yields slightly lower than our previous forecast.

European Russia and Belarus

European Russia – Serious Drought Decreased Spring and Winter Cereals Yields

Dry and warm summer weather continued until mid-August. The persistent drought decreased the yield expectations of both winter and spring cereals in the main producing southern regions. The high temperatures shortened the grain filling and ripening stage leading to an early harvest. The soils dried out towards the end of the crop cycle, but from the second dekad of August weather turned to be rainy increasing the soil moisture content favourably.

During the first half of August most of European Russia experienced warm weather. The temperature exceeded by 4-6°C the average in a wide belt between the Ukrainian border and South Ural Mountains, but was also higher by 2-4°C than normal in the wide central territories as well as north of the Caucasus Mountains. From mid-August temperatures decreased to normal or below normal level and thermal conditions became more changeable. After a dry first dekad of August plentiful rain arrived and rainy days continued until mid-September Precipitation sums are in the range of 80 – 100 mm in the Central and Volga Okrugs which is 30-100% more than the climatologically expected value for this period. The frequent and significant rains could have hampered the harvest of later ripening spring cereals, but concurrently is favourable to support the following sowing campaign of winter cereals replenishing the soil moisture. The region between the Black and Caspian Sea received also above average precipitation.

Winter wheat reached its maturity stage in mid-August on the very northern cultivated areas and spring barley for whole country had finished its cycle by the end of the August. These crops indicated significant advance in development primarily in South-Russia which led to a significant shortening of the grain filling period. This has worsened the already lowered yield expectation due to a long-lasting severe water shortage of the South, Volga and Central Okrugs. The damage and loss caused by the drought of this year are irreversible and are leading to significant reduction in yields.

Belarus – Seasonal Weather Conditions and Good Maize Prospects

The rainy August could have hampered temporarily the cereals harvest, but concurrently supplied water to summer crops. The simulated maize development shows considerable precocity and an average leaf area index. The water limited biomass indicates a moderate surplus and consequently our maize yield forecast is slightly optimistic.

The temperature fluctuated significantly in August and September. Hot and cold periods varied finally resulting in seasonal mean temperatures for the considered time-period. The first and last dekad of August and some days around 10 September were unusually warm. The daily mean temperatures continuously exceeded the average and at some days approached historical record values or set new ones. In the first dekad of August the highest daily temperature maxima generally stepped over 30°C and some spots in Gomel region reached +36°C. Contrarily in the second dekad of August cold thermal conditions ruled Belarus and below average temperatures were recorded. The precipitation was normal or above normal in August country-wise. The cumulated rainfall was plentiful in the southern regions and the number of days with significant rainfall (>5 mm) was 2-4 days more than usual in Brest, Mogilev and Vitebsk districts. The frequent and locally abundant rainfalls could have delayed the harvest of wheat and barley. The first half of September was notably dry, since the precipitation was 30-90% less than the climatological sum, providing good conditions to finish the harvest. The soil moisture under maize and other summer crops remained sufficient for an adequate crop growth. The phenological stage of maize shows 1-3 weeks advance. The canopy development follows the normal course everywhere and the biomass accumulation as well as the forecast yield is slightly above the average.

September 2012


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