Mexico: Hurricane Manuel Partially Recharges Irrigation Reservoirs for Planting Winter Corn in the State of Sinaloa
Mexico experienced two destructive hurricanes last week when they hit landfall on opposite coasts and within 24-hours apart. Hurricane Ingrid from the Gulf of Mexico made landfall on September 16, 2013, while Hurricane Manuel from the Pacific hit landfall on September 15 and 19 (refer to Figure 1). It is a rare event for Mexico to experience two tropical storms within 24-hours of each other, something which has not happened since 1958 according to meteorologists. Both hurricanes caused severe flooding, destroyed roads and claimed lives while they also helped to recharge many low reservoirs which have been operating at less than 50 percent capacity for almost three years.
Tropical storms are an important source for replenishing reservoirs across Mexico, with reservoirs being recharged from tropical storms from both Atlantic and Pacific oceans during July through September. Last week, Hurricane Manuel recharged several irrigation reservoirs in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora, after it brought over 300-millimeters of rainfall in some rain catchment areas near Culiacan, Mexico and raised total reservoir irrigation capacity from 40 to over 50 percent capacity (refer to Figures 2 and 3).
Figure 1. Hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel brought
more than 300-millimeters of rainfall in some areas.
Figure 2. Rainfall from Hurricane Manuel helped to
recharge reservoirs in Sinaloa and Sonora.
Growers in Sinaloa and Sonora Mexico modify planting area based on the smount of water stored in the reservoirs. It has been three years since the reservoir capacities for Sinaloa and Sonora were at 90 percent capacity, when Sinaloa irrigation farmers planted 471,100 hectares during the 2010/11 winter corn season (refer to Figure 3). The planting season for winter corn in Sinaloa is from November through January. Planting typically occurs after the reservoirs reach their annual maximum recharged levels in October. Last year, irrigation farmers in Sinaloa planted 352,000 hectares of corn when the reservoirs were at 50 percent capacity in October, 2012. This year’s reservoir capacity is slightly above last year, which means the 2013/14 winter corn area in Sinaloa is expected to be approximately 365,000 hectares, or slightly above last year’s planted area of 352,000 hectares. Sinaloa also has the highest average corn yield in the country, with average yields being slightly greater than 10 tons/hectare. Irrigated winter corn production in Sinaloa has therefore ranged from 3.6 to 5.0 million tons during 2010-2012, with corn area and production being greatly dependent on the reservoir water levels in October. Total irrigated winter corn production for Mexico averaged 6 million tons from 2007-2011, which accounted for nearly 25 percent of Mexico’s average annual corn production of 22 million tons from 2007-2011.
Figure 3. Reservoirs in Sinaloa and Sonora states
were below 50 percent capacity from 2011-2013.
Figure 4. Percent irrigated land in Sinaloa and Sonora states
Spring/summer corn production accounted for an average of 15.6 million tons during 2007-2011, with the following ten states producing 12 million tons, or 76 percent of the spring/summer output from Jalisco (3MT), Mexico (1.5MT), Michoacan (1.4MT), Chiapas (1.3MT), Guerrero (1.2MT), Guanajuato (1.1MT), Chihuahua (0.9MT), Puebla (0.8MT), Veracruz (0.7MT), and Oaxaca (0.6MT). In addition, spring/summer corn is produced in all regions of Mexico and under a wide range of agro-climates, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Major agro-climates for growing corn in Mexico’s central plateau
Growers reportedly completed planting operations for the 2013/14 crop in June, and in general crop development has been favorable with favorable rainfall and soil moisture conditions from June through September (refer to Figures 6 and 7). As of September 22, 2013, soil moisture levels are good throughout much of Mexico’s central corn plateau, with only two minor corn producing regions showing signs of drought (refer to Figure 6). A cropland NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) time series analysis was also conducted for the top 10 corn producing states, and the NDVI time series graph in Figure 7 indicates that 2013 crop conditions are similar to 2012 conditions. The total crop yields for Mexico are therefore currently forecast by USDA at 3.28 tons per hectare, or very near last year’s yield of 3.15.
Figure 6. Soil Moisture Percentile on September 22 and
Percent of Normal Accumulated Precipitation from June 22- September 22, 2013.
Figure 7. Cropland NDVI Time Series Analysis for the
Top 10 Summer Corn Producing States in Mexico
In summary, both winter corn and summer corn production are estimated to be near last year’s corn production levels, as this year’s water reservoir levels in Sinaloa are similar to last year and this year’s NDVI time series analysis is similar to last year. The current USDA forecast for Mexico’s 2013/14 corn production is 22.0 million tons, or up 0.5 million tons from last year’s crop.
Cropland NDVI Time Series Analysis from USDA/NASA’s Global Agriculture Monitoring Project
North American Monsoons System (NAMS) - NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center
Experimental Surface Water Monitor for Continental US and Mexico (from University of Washington)
Latin America Maize Research Atlas (from CIMMYT- International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center)
Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.