Friday, 3 June 2016

Swarms of locusts destroy crops in Russia

The Rains of Climate Change, Voracious Locust Swarms Wreck Crops in Russia

2 June, 2016
This year was supposed to set new records for Russian grain production. But that was before a persistent trough in the Jet Stream funneled storm after storm over the Ukraine through Western and Central Russia setting off record extreme rainfall events. Before a swarm of locusts invading further north earlier than is typical ravaged over 170,000 ares of corn in Southern Russia. Now the combined insect plague and stormy weather has put cereal crops at risk of shortfalls.
Planting Season Disrupted by Severe Rains

(A big polar amplification enhanced dip in the Jet Stream over Central and Western Russia set off record heavy rains during May, putting the cereal growing season in jeopardy. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

For Western and Central Russia, May was a terrible month for planting season. Warming in the Arctic aided in the generation of numerous high amplitude Jet Stream waves. These waves, in turn, generated a deep trough zone over Central and Western Russia. As with many recent climate change related weather features, the trough stuck around. And a series of seemingly endless ending storms dumped between 2 and 6 times the normal amount of rainfall over Russia’s most productive growing zone.
The rains prevented or slowed the rate of seed planting. For Central Russia, planting all but halted. Now some estimates are hinting that Russia may miss its record grain harvest target. Andrey Sizov Jr., managing director at consultant SovEcon in Moscow stated to AGWeb today that:
There’s too much rain. Planting all but stopped in the center. If rains continue, there will be no record” grain crop.
Locust Swarm Devours 10 Percent of Southern Russia’s Corn Crop

(A massive locust swarm blacken the skies over Southern Russia. The early swarm is already reported to have devoured a big portion of the region’s corn crop — prompting officials there to declare a state of emergency.)
New doubts over Russia’s grain harvest also emerged after media reports indicated that 10 percent or 170,000 ares of Southern Russia’s corn crop was destroyed by a massive swarm of locusts during late May and early June. The swarm is part of an annual arrival of the insects from North Africa. But this year, warmer than normal weather conditions — enhanced by the hot air dredged up ahead of the rainy trough to the north — are thought to have spurred breeding, swelled the size of the swarm, and aided in its early arrival.

Last year, a voracious locust swarm also devoured a significant portion of Southern Russia’s crops during mid to late summer. Sadly, the swarm this year has likely only just gotten started — meaning that with most of summer ahead, there’s a risk that the swarm will continue to expand for weeks or even months.
Farmers have attempted to control the insects through the use of pesticides and by lighting fires over swarming fields. But the locusts, which can grow to the size of small bird and eat their weight in food every day, are both tough and resilient. This year’s early swarm was so intense that local officials have now declared a state of emergency.
Conditions in Context

Human forced climate change both has the increased potential to set off extreme rainfall events and to extend the period of time during which swarming insects like locusts can move and breed. Heat creeping northward also expands the range of locust swarms even as extreme heat, drought, and heavy rainfall events can increase insects tendency to gather into large groups rather than forage individually.
During recent months, numerous trough zones around the globe have produced extreme and record rainfall events related to human caused climate change. The Central and Western Russia rains add to extreme flooding in Germany, France, and over Southeastern Texas to generate a global context of ongoing climate disruption. Disruptions that have in total flooded hundreds of homes injured dozens and resulted in related losses of life. A new kind of weather hazard that is, when combined with a huge early swarm of warming-enflamed locusts, is now threatening the Russian growing season.
Hat tip to Colorado Bob
Hat tip to Kalypso

Not the first time this story is from August, 2015

This was top headline on CNN’s webpage, but I had to search for reports of California’s wildfires.

Perhaps the CIA sent the locusts as a gift to Putin – lol?

PS I wonder what CNN's new terms and conditions are. Something like - 'you visit our site, we invade your computer'?

Locust swarms plague southern Russia

5 August, 2015

Moscow (CNN)Millions of locusts have descended on farmlands in southern Russia, devouring entire fields of crops and causing officials to declare a state of emergency in the region.

A vast area of at least 800 hectares is currently being affected as the swarms of insects, each measuring about 8 centimeters long, annihilate fields of corn and other crops.

It's been more than 30 years since this part of southern Russia suffered such a dense plague of locusts, according to local officials.

Officials say at least 10% of crops have already been destroyed, and the locust feeding frenzy is far from over, threatening to devastate the livelihoods of local farmers.

Walking through what remains of his corn field in the Stavropol region, one farmer, Pyotr Stepanchenka, looks distraught.

"Look," he says to the camera, "there is nothing left of the corn. The locusts ate it all, from the leaves to the cobs."

On state television, Russian news broadcasts are linking the plague to climate change, connecting the phenomenon to recent flooding amid higher than average temperatures.

Officials from the Russian ministry of agriculture have declared a state of emergency, but appear helpless to prevent the destruction.

They say they are stepping up efforts to save the harvest by increasing crop-spraying flights.

But high summer temperatures, they say, are decreasing the effectiveness of the powerful pesticides they use.

Also, officials say the locust swarms are moving fast across southern Russia, sometimes too fast for the authorities to keep up, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

"In Kalmikya, Astrakhan, Volgagrad, and Dagestan, there is already no food left for the locusts, so they have moved on to other sources of food," says Tatiana Drishcheva of the Russia Argricultural Center, a government organization.

"They have wingspans of nearly 12 centimeters, like small sparrows," she added.

Some frustrated locals, facing ruin, have posted videos of themselves desperately trying to hold back the tide. But it all seems futile in the face of such an overwhelming Russian swarm.

This from Russian media today  - who rarely make any reference to climate change. Who's correct?

Russian farmers are expected to harvest a record crop of grain this year

2 June, 2016

Thanks to Russia’s warmest winter on record and spring rains, farmers will collect 109.3 million metric tons of grain, breaking the record of 108.2 million tons in 2008, Vladimir Petrichenko, head of the company ProZerno, told Bloomberg.

The record harvest is expected to offset the effect of a drop in production of wheat and barley from 2008 levels, according to the article.

"The amount of wheat killed during the winter was 6.1 percent, about 1 percentage point lower than seen before," Petrichenko said. "Its condition has improved."

Plentiful rains in the south helped plant development and will increase yields, making up for drier conditions for crops in areas of the Ural Mountains and Siberia, he said.

At the same time, a report by the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies expects this year’s harvest of at least 107 million tons. However, the outlook may soon be upgraded.

The wheat harvest is expected to reach 63.3 million tons this year, the second-largest after a record of 63.8 million tons in 2008, according to government data. Last year, Russian farmers collected 61.8 million tons.

The barley harvest is also expected to rise to 18 million tons, from 17.5 million tons last year.

Earlier this month, Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said that Russia was going to collect some 106 million metric tons of grain in 2016.

The minister also expressed hope that in 10 years the annual grain harvest in Russia would reach 120-130 million tons.

On Monday, the Russian Agriculture Ministry reported that during the last 10 months Russia has exported 32.2 million tons of grain, a 12.3 percent increase against the previous agricultural year.

In February, Vice President of the Russian Grain Union Alexander Korbut told Sputnik that this year will see Russia continue to expand its clout in the international grain market, not least due to the weakening of the Russian ruble.

Russia started exporting grain back in 2002, and has been steadily strengthening its position in this field since then.

Among the main buyers of Russian grain are Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Over the last couple of years, Russia has entered the grain markets of Africa and Latin 

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