Widespread Drought in Asia Tied to El Nino

Martell Crop Projections reports that widespread drought in Asia tied to El Nino.

(emphasis mine) [my comment]

Widespread Drought in Asia Tied to El Nino -- October 26

Widespread drought has developed in China, India, Indonesia and the Middle East in connection with a growing El Nino influence, summer into fall. This report investigates the effects of drought in large food- and feed- consuming nations. Australia was not as strongly affected by El Nino drought in the southern wheat growing areas.


Heat radiation is an effective proxy for rainfall, since the lack of cloudiness and rain showers creates excess earth heat that may be sensed by satellite. The areas of high heat radiation on the anomaly map below indicate precisely where conditions were dry. Heat radiation is measured in watts per meter squared. The deep orange and red areas are where driest conditions occurred in the recent 90 days ending October 20.



Palm oil production predicted lower: Drought in Kalimantan, Indonesia, was severe in the 90 days ending October 20, pointing to lower palm oil production in Indonesia. This is a relatively new growing area for palm fruit with more immature trees, compared with the well established plantations in Sumatra and the Malaysia peninsula. The traditional palm oil producing areas were not as dry. Moreover, ample stocks from a bumper harvest in 2008 would prevent severe shortages in palm oil supplies. That being said, demand for palm oil is expected to be especially strong because of widespread drought in Asia that boosts import needs. A lower harvest and strong demand would reduce palm oil supplies in Indonesia and Malaysia.



India oilseed shortage: Summer soybean production is projected to fall sharply due to a failed monsoon in 2009. The top soybean state Madhya Pradesh recorded a 35-inch rainfall deficit, June to September, during the monsoon, based on statistics from the India Meteorological Department. Soybeans are not the only oilseed crop in India. A favorable cottonseed harvest bolstered oil supplies this season, but peanut production was very disappointing due to drought. The net deficit of the 3 oilseeds may reach 1.5 million metric tons. That is a problem for a nation that consistently imports large amounts of vegetable oil, even when summer rainfall is good.



Winter wheat and rapeseed dependent on good rains: India winter rapeseed production needs to be favorable to offset low output in summer oilseeds. Winter rapeseed comprises 20-23% of national oilseed production, so a bumper harvest would have a positive effect. The problem is subsoil moisture is deficient in Central India, predisposing the new crop to drought. Rape planting occurs in October-November and the crop is harvested in the spring. Winter wheat in Northwest India also requires generous winter precipitation to avoid slipping into drought in the rainfed areas that account for more than half the national wheat area. Irrigated wheat in Punjab and Haryana is buffered from the effects of potential dry winter weather.

Late summer drought in China: Rice is the major crop produced in Central-East China where drought has persisted from August into the fall. A sharp reduction in second-crop rice would have a negative effect on food supplies in South China, where this is the major crop grown. Soybeans are also grown in small quantities in the drought-affected areas of Central-Easst China, but only 8-10% of the national crop was affected.

We should be worried about drought effects on winter wheat. North China wheat states Shandong and Henan were both very dry for fall planting. It is important for wheat to be properly established before dormancy sets in in late November-December. If drought becomes severe in North China irrigation may be employed to improve the condition of wheat.




China corn production predicted sharply lower: China corn production is expected to shrink at least 10% due to severe summer drought in the Northeast. The leading corn province Jilin was affected by July-August drought, along with Inner Mongolia, western Heilongjiang and Hebei. August was particularly dry, reducing kernel filling in corn. China corn production has steadily imcreased in the 2000s, adequately supplying needs for a growing livestock industry. Low production in 2009 is a sharp reversal from an increasing trend. Corn shortages may develop by spring-summer of 2010.


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My reaction: Widespread drought in Asia is causing a sharp drop in food production.

1) Widespread drought has developed in China, India, Indonesia and the Middle East in connection with a growing El Nino influence.

2) Drought in Kalimantan, Indonesia, was severe in the 90 days ending October 20, pointing to lower palm oil production in Indonesia.

3) Summer soybean production in India is projected to fall sharply due to a failed monsoon in 2009.

4) Due to drought, India is facing a net deficit in oilseeds of 1.5 million metric tons.

5) Persistant drought in Central-East China will reduce the region's rice production.

6) China corn production is expected to shrink at least 10% due to severe summer drought in the Northeast.

7) Corn shortages may develop by spring-summer of 2010.


Conclusion: I am not the only one predicting food shortages because of widespread drought.

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