Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Just how bad is the dry weather for Russian wheat?

Dry weather in Russia has left wheat vulnerable to damage this winter, said Amy Reynolds, a senior
economist at the International Grains Council in London.

The key phrase here is “in London”, relying on satellite data and remote weather reports doesn't always capture the full agronomic picture.

Ms Reynolds isn't alone in her pessimistic agronomy report; the internet is full of imminent catastrophe for the Russian wheat harvest and Russian doom and gloom in general.

I suspect some of this stems from the anti-Russian rhetoric pushed into the news by the spin doctors as part of the broader effort to put pressure on Russia to amend its current foreign policy in Ukraine.

But looking at this from an agronomist position and I'm less pessimistic on RU H15 forecast.

True winter crops went in to the ground in dry conditions, struggled to develop and intermittent snow cover and cold will have increased the chances of winter kill.

But that dry weather will have encouraged roots to go looking for water and grown deeper in to the soil profile in the autumn which will help later in the season when it really does get dry.

While reports are saying things like rainfall is half of normal whatever normal is, what that actually means is the soil is still wet – OK it’s frozen now but any precipitation be it rain or snow will saturate the soil come the thaw.

And if we do look at the satellite data such as the US Air Force Weather Agency it currently shows that out of the twenty oblasts they monitor in western and central Russia, currently 14 are above or well above average precipitation with the balance of six oblast not that far below normal.

Doesn't sound too bad to me but the the only way to be really sure will be to go and have a look yourself.

I’ll be doing just that in April.