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Recent precipitation was sufficient to promote spring wheat planting

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • March 24, 2023
Recent precipitation was sufficient to promote spring wheat planting

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  • Key Messages
  • Update on Seasonal Progress
  • Forecast
  • Partner
    USGS
    Key Messages
    • Below-average precipitation from October 1, 2022, to March 20, 2023, was observed throughout the country while average precipitation was observed in central and northeastern parts of the country (Figure 1).

    • As of March 22, 2023, widespread below-average snow depth conditions were also observed across the country (Figure 2).

    • Above-average temperatures since mid-February have led to precipitous snow melt in northern, western, and southern basins of the country. Consequently, snow water volumes are either close to or at record minimum levels in the country as of March 21, 2023, (Figure 3).

    • The ECMWF precipitation forecast for March 20 – 27, 2023, indicates above-average precipitation in most parts of the country, except in the areas bordering Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan where near-average precipitation is expected. During the week of March 27 – April 3, 2023, average precipitation is expected in the country except for chances of above-average in areas bordering Pakistan. The forecast of average to above-average precipitation through April 3 is expected to help farmers complete spring wheat planting (Figure 4).

    • According to the latest NOAA advisory, La Niña has ended and ENSO neutral conditions are expected during the spring and early summer, with increased chance of El Niño from the beginning of 2023-24 season. Precipitation during spring and summer is most likely to be near average but may not reduce precipitation deficits and ease drought conditions in the northern, western, and southern areas in the country. Above average temperatures are expected in the north and west, while average temperatures prevail during April–June 2023 elsewhere (Figure 5).


    Update on Seasonal Progress

    Current conditions:

    According to information provided by key informants, well distributed precipitation through mid-February created favorable soil moisture conditions for spring wheat cultivation in the country. Farmers have planted spring wheat in areas with favorable soil moisture conditions in the northeastern and central parts of the country while land is being prepared for planting of spring wheat in areas expecting good precipitation during the last half of March.

    Precipitation:

    Below-average precipitation conditions (60-90% of average) continue to dominate most of the country while average precipitation conditions persist in parts of the central, and northeast as of March 20 (Figure 1).

    Snow depth and snow water volume:

    As of March 22, 2023, below-average snow depth conditions prevail over most of the country (Figure 2). The above-average temperatures hindered the accumulation of snowpack while seasonal snowmelt accelerated rapidly from mid-February to mid-March in the northern, western, and southern basins in the country. Currently, snow water volumes are either close to or at record minimum levels. Figure 3 highlights snow water volume that is close to near minimum in Hari Rod and Kabul basins, while it is at record minimum levels in Arghandab and Kunduz basins as of March 21.

    Figure 1

    October 1, 2022 - March 20, 2023, CHIRPS percent of average precipitation
    Map showing CHIRPS percent of average precipitation for October 1, 2022 to March 20, 2023.

    Source: UCSB CHC

    Figure 2

    Snow depth difference anomaly relative to the average 2002-2021 in mm as of March 22
    Map showing snow depth difference anomaly relative to the average 2002-2021 in mm as of March 22.

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3

    Below average snow water volume accumulation in Arghandab (south), Hari Rod (west), Kunduz (north), and Kabul (east) basins as of March 21, 2023
    Four graphs showing below average snow water volume accumulation in Arghandab (south), Hari Rod (west), Kunduz (north), and Kabul (east) basins as of March 21, 2023

    Source: USGS/NASA


    Forecast

    Precipitation: 

    ECMWF forecasts above-average precipitation across most parts of the country during the week March 20 – 27, 2023 (Figure 4, left inset). Some northeastern and northern areas bordering Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan may receive average precipitation while below-average precipitation is forecast in northeastern parts of the country during the above period. During the week March 27 – April 3, 2023, there is no tilt towards either above- or below-average precipitation in most parts of the country except for chances of above-average precipitation in the areas bordering Pakistan (Figure 4, right inset). Forecast of above-average precipitation during the third and fourth weeks of March will immensely benefit spring wheat (planting) and winter wheat (in vegetative stage) in the country.

    Figure 4

    Mean weekly precipitation from the ECMWF forecast system made for March 20 – 27, 2023 (left) and March 27 – April 3, 2023 (right) as of March 17, 2023
    Map showing mean weekly precipitation from the ECMWF forecast system made for March 20 – 27, 2023 (left) and March 27 – April 3, 2023 (right) as of March 17, 2023.

    Source: ECMWF

    Temperatures:

    The NMME forecast for April-June 2023 indicates average temperature in the central and southeastern parts of the country while above-average temperatures are expected in the rest of the country. Above-average temperatures have already led to snow water volumes rapidly declining at least two to four weeks earlier than normal in some northern, western, and southern basins. Above-average temperatures and below average snow melt runoff in most basins will most likely create reduced water availability for wheat (during its critical flowering and grain hardening stages) in the coming months. Second crop cultivation is also expected to be adversely affected due to the ongoing hydrological drought conditions in the country. Chances of widespread flooding are less-than-normal while there may be chances of isolated flash flooding in spring depending on the extent of winter snow accumulation, spring rainfall, and temperature during the rest of the season.

    Figure 5

    North American Multi-Model Ensemble temperature forecast for April-June 2023 made in March 2023
    Map showing North American Multi-Model Ensemble temperature forecast for April-June 2023 made in March 2023.

    Warm colors indicate the likelihood of temperature in the upper tercile, and cool colors indicate the likelihood of temperature in the lower tercile.

    Source: NOAA CPC

    FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.

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