Agriculture News

Drought in Argentina and El Nino

Profarmer Australia, Thursday July 16, 2009 - 17:35 EST

There has been considerable comment about the drought in Argentina, with the wheat crop there forecast to fall below 6mmt which is less than domestic consumption, which will make Argentina a net importer. Argentina remains critically dry, especially in areas outside of eastern and southern Buenos Aries. This is the second year of drought for wheat growing areas in Argentina and for some areas the situation is far worse than last year at this time. Optimum planting dates for the 2009-10 crop have passed and any planting that occurs from this point onward would likely result in lower yields. Market speculation suggests that if rainfall improves during August and September it will likely translate into a change in area planted figures reducing wheat acreage and increasing, corn, sorghum and soybean acreage. Weather forecaster, World Weather Inc, sees rainfall increasing in Argentina soon. Probably within the next two weeks and August may be the first wetter than usual month seen in quite a while for some areas. The change to wetter weather will be tied to changes in the El Nino-Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). A recent move toward more significantly positive SOI values this month has translated into greater dryness because the higher SOI values are often associated with La Nina like conditions in the surface pressure field across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. La Nina like conditions that occur when the SOI is strongly positive often reduce rainfall in Argentina and that may be (in part) the cause of extended dryness. The El Nino phenomenon rises in the Pacific Ocean and then shifts to the Atlantic, with a 12 to 18 month lag. So taking that lag into account, the last two years of drought in Argentina mirror the 2006/07, and 2007/08 droughts in Australia. Weather forecasters are now predicting that a new El Nino is building in the Pacific, with dryer conditions predicted for the second half of the year in Australia.

- Profarmer

© Profarmer 2009

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