Weather models predict different precipitation for key Russian spring wheat regions

The weather has been unfriendly for Russian spring wheat so far but things could change this week.

The weather has been unfriendly for Russian spring wheat which accounts for around one-third of the total crop. Main regions, Siberia, the Urals and the Volga Valley received only 20-60% of normal precipitation during the previous month. 

As a result, topsoil moisture reserves in many cases fell to the lowest level for many years. This was one of the reasons why SovEcon cut the wheat crop forecast from 81.7 mmt to 80.9 mmt last week.

Things are starting to change this week. The latest forecast (May, 31) from the European ECMWF predicts good much-awaited rains in almost all spring wheat regions suffering from dryness. If confirmed this will stop spring wheat conditions from further deterioration and perhaps even improve yield potential. 

However, another model, GEFS, draws a different picture. The biggest difference is the forecast for Siberia, #1 spring wheat producer. Key regions, Altai and Omsk, are predicted to receive almost no precipitation this week, as per GEFS.

If ECMWF is right spring wheat yield could be close to average. If GEFS is correct it could imply a wheat yield below the average and further Russian wheat crop downgrades. Currently, it’s already substantially below USDA’s estimate of 85 mmt. That difference could become even bigger.

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