Thursday, 9 January 2014

Weather update

Still no snow and when I went for my run this morning it felt more like April than January.

To support my observations here are two charts.

The first clearly and graphically shows the lack of snow cover compared to last year.

By now it would be normal to see a 20cm blanket of snow covering most of Ukraine.

The second chart while less dramatic does show how average temperatures have consistently been above normal since mid October through to December.

And I can confirm are still high through week 2 of January.

Dry and unseasonably warm is how the latest USDA weekly weather and crop update succinctly puts it.

It might go one of two ways.

A rapid drop in temperatures before snow fall with crop damage across wide regions of Ukraine and subsequent reports of catastrophic famine or it snows quickly and there is no problem.

My feeling is the issue will be much more agronomic and subtle than just death by cold.

Fungal diseases will have continued to develop later into the winter than is normal and will have an insidious effect on wheat and oilseed rape in particular.

This will have weakened plants so when temperatures do drop these plants will be less able to withstand the cold and we will see a higher than average level of winterkill as a result.

Furthermore there will be a high inoculm loading come the spring resulting in quicker and earlier disease thresholds being reached.

The same will hold true for insect pests; lifecycles have continued later in to the year than usual and base line populations will be that much higher at the start of the season.

Best make sure that sprayer is primed and ready to go come April.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Happy Christmas Ukraine

Yesterday was Christmas Day in Ukraine, Happy Christmas Ukraine.

According to tradition people tuck in to a 12 course vegetarian supper as the first stars appear in the sky.

Carol singers, Christmas trees and decorations, street entertainers, mulled wine and sausages all make the town center a very festive and fun place to be at the moment the only thing missing is snow.

It's like spring at the moment so much so that I am sitting in the office as I write with the window wide open.

One of the most frequent questions I have about Ukraine is what is the winter like?  Well normally it is cold with lots of snow and ice, blue skies and freezing temperatures and it’s wonderful.  

No such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes; coats, hats, scarves and gloves and off you go.

But winter will come soon, snow will fall and it will get cold.  

The issue we have is will sufficient snow fall before the temperatures plummet?

That insulating blanket of snow is crucial in protecting winter crops; I have seen temperatures drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius with no adverse effects on oilseed rape and wheat safely tucked up under half a meter of snow.

The other issue is will all this mild weather and late arrival of cold allow for greater development of phoma and light leaf spot?  Theoretically yes which could impact on next seasons oilseed rape yield.

I am watching the weather reports currently coming out of the US and Canada and can’t help thinking we are going to get that as it travels across the pond?  

My feeling is we are going to get a big shock fairly soon and winter will hang around well in to the spring with knock on effect on planting and fertilising.

But that is later, for now there is nothing we can do on the farm so time to chillax hopefully without too much of the chill.