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Rainfall deficits have affected subsistence crops in southern areas Haiti since May

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • November 30, 2013
Rainfall deficits have affected subsistence crops in southern areas Haiti since May

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Progress
  • Key Messages
    • In Haiti, dryness has been affecting the areas of Jacmel, La Vallée, Côtes de Fer, Bainet, Anse-Rouge, Baie de Henne, and Bombardopolis since May.

    • Above-normal or average yields are reported across Central America due to adequate levels of soil moisture across the region.

    • Abnormal rainfall is expected across in the Pacific basin of Central America.

    Seasonal Progress

    Dry conditions have consistently affected some areas in Haiti since May 2013. Figure 1 shows rainfall anomalies since August, with particularly dry conditions in southern areas. The three-month SPI (Standardized Precipitation Index) showed dry conditions in Haiti from July to September in Delmas, Gressier, Léogane, Jacmel, La Vallée, Grand-Goáve, Côtes de Fer, Bainet, and Cabaret (Figure 2). A reduction in yield is expected in these areas.

    The rainfall forecast in Haiti from now until the beginning of 2014 indicates the dryness will continue across the already affected zones. These dry conditions mean anomalously low water and reservoir levels. According to the model, this dryness index is gradual and cumulative, and therefore takes longer to manifest itself than an agricultural drought would. The extent to which water availability will be affected would become apparent in the next two to three months.

    Despite the late start of season In Central America, the second rainy season has so far had a normal rainfall distribution to major crops areas, in terms of timing and quantity favoring the normal development of crops.

    Maize and beans yields are expected to be normal in all of Central America. This will likely ensure the availability of staple grains in the first quarter 2014.

    According to reports from MAGFOR in Nicaragua, 99 percent of area planted for red beans and maize has been harvested in the Postrera season; the total area planted for beans was 83,457 hectares and 59,761 hectares for maize. This was due to the good distribution of rainfall during the second rainy season, which in turn left sufficient soil moisture under better conditions that in previous years. This will provide a good start for the Apante season. Bean production is significant during the Apante season; 60,703 hectares are expected to be planted.

    In Honduras, official reports from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) indicate a normal yield for the Postrera season. However, pests affected some localized maize cropping areas in the Gulf of Fonseca. A reduction in yields for maize is expected due to both the presence of pests and minimal use of fertilizer and pesticide treatment on crops due to high costs.

    Current ENSO-neutral conditions1 do not provide any indication of any upcoming extreme climate phenomenon during the rest of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. During the Central America Climate Outlook Forum, the region’s meteorological services forecast 10 to 12 cold fronts between November 2013 and March 2014, which is considered typical. The forecast also indicates these cold fronts will not bring extremely low temperatures, but some seasonal frosts could be expected in the higher elevation areas of Guatemala.

    The climate conditions for the near future in Haiti according to the SPI analysis indicate unusually low river and reservoir levels, leading to low water availability in already dry areas. The water in these areas is not only for agricultural activities, but also consumption. During the dry season in Haiti (December to April), the soil gradually loses moisture until the rains begin and enable the start of planting. Sowing activities for the 2014 Primera season could therefore have a delayed start given the extra time it will require to replenish the necessary soil moisture levels.

    For the Pacific basin in Central America, normal rainfall is forecast from December 2013 to March 2014 (Figure 3). However, if moisture levels exceed normal due to slightly above-normal rainfall in some areas in Guatemala from October to November, some bean crops could be affected by fungal disease during the Postrera season. To date, no damage to crops has been reported. For the Apante season in Nicaragua, the forecast indicates good crop development and an expected normal harvest starting at end of February 2014.

    An abnormal extension at the end of the Segunda rainy season could produce above-average total rainfall in the Pacific basin of Guatemala as compared to the 30-year average (1980-2010).

    1. There is a phase of 'El Niño–Southern Oscillation' (ENSO), which refers to variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (El Niño and La Niña) and in air surface pressure in the tropical western Pacific.

    Figures Total Rainfall Anomaly in Percent (%) (August 1 to  November 13, 2013)

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Total Rainfall Anomaly in Percent (%) (August 1 to November 13, 2013)

    Source: NOAA

    Three-month SPI (Standardized Precipitation Index), July to September

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Three-month SPI (Standardized Precipitation Index), July to September

    Source: CARICOF

    Climate Outlook Forecast Central America for December 2013 – March 2014

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. Climate Outlook Forecast Central America for December 2013 – March 2014

    Source: XLI Central America Climate Outlook Forum

    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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