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Weather OK for most crops

Drew Lerner is hard pressed to find any crop production trouble spots when he looks at his global weather maps.

“We’re definitely in a pattern here worldwide where there’s not much to be concerned with,” said the president of World Weather Inc.

“There is very little reason to be looking for trouble from a wheat perspective.”

His world tour starts in the United States, where it has been a mixed environment for the hard red winter wheat crop.

Rivers and streams are low and there is a need for additional soil moisture, but it is not as severely dry as it has been in previous years.

The crop is in fair to good condition in the central and northern parts of the winter wheat region, where there was favorable crop establishment last fall.

Crops in Texas and Oklahoma suffered from a lack of moisture shortly after planting, so crop establishment is iffy in that region.

“They definitely need more moisture,” said Lerner.

Weather conditions in South America have been favourable.

Recent dryness in Brazil has trimmed yield potential but not enough to seriously curtail production.

“We’re still going to be looking at record soybean production,” he said.

Excess moisture at harvest could interfere with second crop corn planting in Brazil, but he doesn’t think it is serious.

Argentina has fared exceptionally well with the exception of a small region in the south where the corn and sunflower crops in the provinces of La Pampa and Buenos Aires have been suffering.

“The rest of Argentina has had very well timed precipitation. The crop is poised to do very well,” said Lerner.

“What Brazil loses in their production because of dryness earlier this year, Argentina will probably make up the difference with such good conditions.”

There are no big issues in the European Union, but trouble could be brewing.

“Their story is one of considerable moisture surplus,” he said.

The ground is saturated or close to saturated in nearly all of the major production regions, with the exception of Spain. That is creating a strong potential for spring flooding.

“For right now they’re walking a fine line and could easily become excessively wet to the point of causing some smothering of wheat in low lying areas and delays in planting,” said Lerner.

Winter crops got off to a miserable start in Russia and Ukraine be-cause of dry conditions last fall followed by bitter cold in November and December.

It caused early-season crop losses, but moisture conditions have improved substantially since then to the point where there may be too much snow on the ground in northern Russia.

“The spring outlook is probably much better for planting with the moisture situation being much better than it was,” he said.

“There is a pretty good chance that their spring crops will go in the ground OK.”

Crops in India are in good shape because of timely rain and plenty of water for irrigation. There was some chatter about killing frosts in late December and early January, but Lerner said the cold temperatures occurred well before the reproduction phase of crop development.

“I think they’re going to have a good crop,” he said.

China’s crops are also faring well because of ample rainfall at planting followed by bouts of rain and snow in winter.

“From a winter wheat perspective, all systems are a go. It will be a very big crop, I’m sure, if things go as they have been,” said Lerner.

The northern fringe of the country’s grain production area is one area of concern. It has been dry in Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Hebi and Jilin.

“It will be something that is closely monitored, not only for spring wheat planting but probably more importantly for corn planting,” he said.

Planting in Australia begins in mid-April and runs through June. The current outlook calls for cooler temperatures and decent precipitation in eastern Australia and slight dryness in western Australia.

“Their prospects for planting in 2015 at the moment are OK,” said Lerner.

The big wildcard for eastern Australia, India and much of Southeast Asia is the potential for the development of the long-delayed El Nino, which could reduce yields in those regions.

Canada is one major production region that could experience problems in 2015-16.

“There is likelihood that there’s going to be a dryness issue of some sort developing later in the growing season across the Prairies,” said Lerner.

He thinks the dryness will materialize in summer and could also affect the upper Midwest and northern Plains region of the U.S.

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