Monday, 24 March 2014

So, just how dry is it in Ukraine?

The markets are starting to wake up the the idea that it might be pretty dry in Ukraine.

While there is a risk that Russia might invade further in to Ukraine adding to market uncertainty, for now I'm going to focus on what I do understand; the weather.

It is dry in Ukraine and the story started back in December.

Ukraine had very little snow fall over the winter and the lack of snow melt left the soils dry.

The lack of snow cover also left soils exposed to drying winds.

Temperatures have been above average and this has encouraged winter crops such as barley, wheat and oilseed rape to break dormancy early and start drawing water up through the roots and out through the stomata.

This is set against a backdrop of low rain fall so far this spring and the published soil moisture data and walking dry fields back this up.

While crops are not at wilting point they are starting to work very hard to suck up water and the nutrients contained within and this will be having an effect on plant vigour.  Imagine drinking through a restricted straw and you get the picture.

This will be felt more by shallow rooted cereal crops than the deeper rooted oilseed rape and will now be affecting germination and establishment of recently planted spring cereals.

All in all the situation is clearly illustrated in the chart above which shows the (lack of) soil moisture.

A worrying picture considering we are at the end of March.

Finding myself with a bit of time on my hands this afternoon I thought it would be fun to collate all the satellite pictures from Ukraine this winter to see if it showed the snow story any better which I did and you can find here.

It probably shows the limit of satellite imagery (or at least my understanding of it) as cloud cover obscures a lot of images, but if you study it closely and peak through the clouds it does show how late and patchy the snow was and how early in the year it disappeared.

Well it does to my mind anyway.