Weekly update - 18 March 2021

Weekly Australian Climate,
Water and Agricultural Update

Key issues

  • During the 7 days to 17  March 2021, troughs and cold fronts generated thunderstorms and showers across parts of eastern, western and northern Australia.
  • The substantial rainfall in eastern cropping regions is likely to have caused delays to harvest activities for summer crops and raise grain quality concerns in a number of key growing regions. However, the substantial falls are likely to provide a boost to soil moisture which will allow for early winter crop sowing and benefit pasture growth across large areas.
  • Global crop production conditions continue to be favourable despite dry conditions across parts of Argentina, Brazil, China, the Russian Federation and the United States, affecting the production potential of wheat, corn and soybeans.
  • February rainfall percentiles and current production conditions indicate a slight deterioration to the global conditions seen during January, which were used to formulate ABARES forecasts of global grain supplies and world prices in its March 2021 edition of Agricultural commodities.
  • The global climate outlook indicates that average to above average rainfall is more likely between April and June 2021 for most of the world's major grain- and oilseed-producing regions. Partly due to the influence of the weakening La Niña event, below average rainfall is expected for large parts of Brazil, India, Indonesia and the western United States.
  • Over the next 8 days, troughs, onshore winds and a cold front are expected to generate showers and storms over much of northern and eastern Australia.
  • In Australia’s cropping regions, rainfall of between 15 and 50 millimetres is expected for Queensland and Victoria. Rainfall of between 25 and 100 millimetres is expected in cropping regions across New South Wales over the next 8 days. If this rainfall eventuates, it may represent an early autumn break in south-eastern cropping regions.
  • Water storage levels in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) decreased by 83 gigalitres (GL) between 10 March 2021 and 17 March 2021. The current volume of water held in storage is 12,878 GL, which represents 51% of total capacity.
  • Allocation prices in the Victorian Murray below the Barmah Choke decreased from $105 per ML on 11 March 2021 to $100 per ML on 18 March 2021. Prices are lower in the Murrumbidgee due to the binding of the Murrumbidgee export limit.

Climate

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Rainfall this week

During the week ending 17 March 2021, troughs and cold fronts generated thunderstorms and showers across parts of eastern, western and northern Australia.

Rainfall totals of between 15 and 100 millimetres were recorded across much of Queensland and the Northern Territory, and parts of eastern and northern New South Wales, eastern Victoria, south-eastern and north-western South Australia, the north and south of Western Australia, and western Tasmania. Rainfall in excess of 100 millimetres was recorded across parts of south-eastern and central Queensland, northern Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

In Australia’s cropping regions, rainfall totals of between 25 and 100 millimetres were recorded across northern New South Wales and Queensland, with rainfall in excess of 100 millimetres across parts of central and northern Queensland cropping regions. Rainfall totals between 10 and 25 millimetres were recorded in cropping regions across parts of south-eastern New South Wales, central South Australia and eastern Western Australia. Little to no rainfall was recorded across remaining cropping regions.

The substantial rainfall in eastern cropping regions is likely to have caused delays to harvest activities for summer crops and raise grain quality concerns in a number of key growing regions due to grain sprouting or fungal staining. However, the substantial falls this week across eastern and northern Australia are likely to provide a boost to soil moisture which will allow for early winter crop sowing and benefit pasture growth across large areas.

Rainfall for the week ending 17 March 2021

Map showing weekly rainfall totals in Australia. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2021, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 17/03/2021
Note: The rainfall analyses and associated maps utilise data contained in the Bureau of Meteorology climate database, the Australian Data Archive for Meteorology (ADAM). The analyses are initially produced automatically from real-time data with limited quality control. They are intended to provide a general overview of rainfall across Australia as quickly as possible after the observations are received. For further information go to http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/rainfall/

Global production conditions and climate outlook

Crop production is affected by long-term trends in average rainfall and temperature, interannual climate variability, shocks during specific growth stages, and extreme weather events (IPCC 2012). Some crops are more tolerant than others to certain types of stresses, and at each growth stage, different types of stresses affect each crop species in different ways.

The precipitation anomalies and outlooks presented here give an indication of the current and future state of production conditions for the major grain and oilseed producing countries which are responsible for over 80% of global production. This is an important input to assessing the global grain supply outlook.

February precipitation percentiles and current production conditions

As at the end of February 2021, precipitation was mixed for the world’s major grain and oil producing regions.

In the northern hemisphere, February precipitation was above average in parts of south-eastern China, south-western Europe, Greece, Indonesia, northern and eastern Kazakhstan, the Philippines, the south of the Russian Federation, the north of Southeast Asia, Ukraine, the centre of the United Kingdom and the north-west and east of the United States of America.

Precipitation was below average across parts of central and eastern Canada, far northern Europe, western Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, and the central and south-east of the United States of America. Snow cover in the United States of America has been low this season for much of the winter wheat belt, resulting in less insulation for dormant crop and increasing the risk of frost damage. Precipitation was generally average across the remainder of major grain and oil producing regions in the northern hemisphere.

In the southern hemisphere, February rainfall was above average across parts of southern Africa. Conditions have deteriorated in parts of South America as below average rainfall became more widespread across southern and central Argentina and below average rainfall occurred in western and southern Brazil across major cropping regions. Rainfall was generally average across the remainder of major grain and oil producing regions in the southern hemisphere.

Global precipitation percentiles, February 2021

Map showing global monthly precipitation percentiles below the 20th percentile and above the 80th percentile. This map uses the climatology baseline of 1981 to 2010 for the month analysed. This map uses data from the NOAA Climate Prediction Centre CAMS_OPI. Image provided by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.
 

Note: The world precipitation percentiles indicate a ranking of precipitation for February, with the driest (0th percentile) being 0 on the scale and the wettest (100th percentile) being 1 on the scale. Percentiles are based on precipitation estimates from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center's Climate Anomaly Monitoring System Outgoing Precipitation Index dataset. Precipitation estimates for February 2021 are compared with rainfall recorded for that period during the 1981 to 2010 base period.
Source: International Research Institute for Climate and Society

As at 28 February 2021 global production conditions were generally favourable. A lack of precipitation and temperature extremes have affected the production potential of wheat, corn, rice and soy in some key grain exporters and importers.

Conditions for wheat development were generally favourable in Canada, the European Union, India, United Kingdom and Ukraine. Below average rainfall in eastern China has reduced crop growth for winter wheat. In the south-eastern European Union and parts of the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United States of America reduced snowfall and cold weather have placed the crop at risk of winterkill.

Conditions for corn in Argentina improved for the early-planted crop, while a lack of rain during grain-filling has significantly reduced yields for the late-planted crop. Likewise, in Brazil, a lack of rainfall during grain-filling has reduced yields for spring-planted corn in the south, while summer sowing of corn has commenced under favourable conditions in the north. Conditions in India and Mexico remain favourable, while conditions in South Africa were exceptional.

Conditions for rice were favourable in Brazil as harvest begun and in India as Rabi rice transplanting finishes in the east. In Indonesia, harvesting of wet-season rice was generally favourable; however, flooding and reduced rainfall in parts have impacted yields. Conditions in the Philippines are mixed for dry-season rice as flooding has damaged crops in multiple regions. A lack of irrigation water in Thailand has resulted in mixed conditions for dry-season rice and a reduction in total area sown is expected. Cold conditions in northern Vietnam were expected to reduce total area sown of dry-season rice. Conditions in southern Vietnam were favourable as harvesting of dry-season rice commences.

Conditions for soybeans in Argentina were mixed for early- and late-planted crops as some regions have experienced high temperatures and a lack of rainfall. As the crops are in critical grain developmental stages, rainfall will be needed to ensure good yields. In Brazil, conditions have remained favourable as harvesting continues.

Crop conditions, AMIS countries, 28 February 2021

Figure showing wheat, maize, rice and soy conditions for AMIS countries during the previous month. Image provided by AMIS. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.
 

AMIS Agricultural Market Information System.
Source: AMIS

Rainfall outlook and potential impact on the future state of production conditions between April and June 2021
Region April-June rainfall outlook Potential impact on production
Argentina Average rainfall is more likely across most of Argentina between April and June 2021. Average rainfall across most of Argentina is likely to support the development of sorghum, rice, millet and soybeans in April, the harvesting of soybeans, corn, sunflower, cotton and nuts from April, and the planting of wheat from May.
Black Sea Region Ukraine - Average rainfall is more likely across Ukraine.
Kazakhstan - Above average rainfall is more likely across parts of north-eastern Kazakhstan.
The Russian Federation - Above average rainfall more likely across large parts of central and southern Russia.
Average or better rainfall across the Black Sea Region is likely to support spring wheat planting and development in the north, and the development of winter wheat and planting of canola, cotton, corn and sunflower in the south.
Brazil Below average rainfall is more likely across large parts of north-eastern and southern Brazil and above average rainfall is more likely across parts of north-western Brazil between April and June 2021. Below average rainfall across large parts of Brazil may adversely affect the development of cotton and corn in the central-west between April and May, the development of rice, sorghum, millet and sunflower in the south during April, and the planting of wheat in the south from May. Conversely, below average rainfall is likely to allow harvest to proceed without delay from April for soybeans, cotton, nuts, millet, rice, sorghum, sunflower and corn.
Canada Average rainfall is more likely for most of Canada between April and June 2021. Average rainfall is likely to support winter wheat development in Canada prior to harvest in June and the planting and development of spring wheat, canola, corn, soybeans and sunflower from May.
China Above average rainfall is more likely across parts of eastern and south-western China and below average rainfall is more likely across parts of north-western and north-eastern China between April and June 2021. Average or better rainfall across much of eastern China is likely to support the development of winter wheat, canola and early rice, and the planting and development of single rice, cotton, spring wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower and nuts. Below average rainfall in parts of the north-east may adversely affect the planting and development of crops between April and June 2021.
Europe Below average rainfall more likely for parts of south-western Europe and above average rainfall is more likely for parts of far northern Europe between April and June 2021. Below average rainfall in parts of the south-west may adversely affect the planting and development of corn, cotton and sorghum between April and June 2021. Average or better rainfall across most of Europe is likely to support winter wheat and canola development, and the planting and development of corn, cotton, spring wheat, soybeans, sunflower and sorghum.
South Asia (India) Below average rainfall is more likely across parts of north-western and southern India and above average rainfall is more likely parts of the eastern and far southern India between April and June 2021. Below average rainfall across parts of India in April 2021 is likely to allow wheat and canola harvesting without delay. Below average rainfall across parts of north-western and southern India may adversely impact the planting of cotton, corn, sorghum, rice, millet, nuts and sunflower in June. Average or better rainfall across the remainder of India is likely to benefit crop planting.
Southeast Asia (SEA) Above average rainfall is more likely for most northern SEA countries and below average rainfall is more likely for much of Indonesia between April and June 2021. Average or better rainfall across most of Southeast Asia is likely to benefit corn and rice planting and development from May 2021. Below average rainfall across much of Indonesia may adversely impact rice and corn production.
The United States of America Above average rainfall is more likely for parts of the north-eastern US and below average rainfall is more likely for parts of the western US between April and June 2021. Average or better rainfall across much of the northern and eastern US is likely to support winter wheat as it comes out of dormancy, as well as the planting and development of spring wheat, canola, corn, cotton, rice, soybeans, sorghum, sunflower, nuts and millet. Below average rainfall in the western US may adversely impact the development of these crops and pastures.

Rainfall forecast for the next eight days

Troughs, onshore winds and a cold front are expected to generate showers and storms over much of northern and eastern Australia during the next 8 days.

Rainfall totals of between 15 and 50 millimetres are forecast for much of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, northern and eastern South Australia, northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. Rainfall totals in excess of 50 millimetres are forecast for parts of northern and eastern New South Wales, southern Queensland, northern Western Australia and the north of the Northern Territory.

In Australia’s cropping regions, rainfall of between 15 and 50 millimetres is expected for Queensland and Victoria. Rainfall of between 25 and 100 millimetres is expected in cropping regions across New South Wales. If this rainfall eventuates, it may represent an early autumn break in south-eastern cropping regions. The autumn break is the first significant rainfall of the winter growing season and provides enough moisture to initiate crop and pasture germination and support early plant growth.

Total forecast rainfall (mm) for the period 18 March to 25 March 2021

Map of the total forecast rainfall for the next 8 days. Image provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. Please refer to accompanying text for a more detailed description.

©Commonwealth of Australia 2021, Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Issued: 18/03/2021

Note: This rainfall forecast is produced from computer models. As the model outputs are not altered by weather forecasters, it is important to check local forecasts and warnings issued by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Water

Water storages, water markets and water allocations - current week

The Tableau dashboard may not meet accessibility requirements. For information about the contents of these dashboards contact ABARES.

 

Commodities

Information on weekly price changes in agricultural commodities is now available at the Weekly commodity price update.

Last reviewed: 18 March 2021
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