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.