USDA: Afghanistan - Heavy rains arrive but more needed

Heavy rain and snow fell from February 14 through February 17, 2003 providing widespread relief to Afghanistan and causing flooding in some areas. Additional rainfall this past week was concentrated in the northeast portion of the country. However, estimated seasonal precipitation remains far below normal but better than last year for much of Afghanistan. Regional rainfall deficits are greatest in the southern and western regions where long-term drought persists.
MAP: Afghanistan: Estimated Seasonal Rainfall (Sep 1, 2002 - Jan 20, 2003)

Seasonal Cumulative Precipitation by Region

Estimated Seasonal Precipitation (Sep 1, 2002 - Feb 20, 2003)

The growing season started in September with some optimism due in part to last year’s improved weather in the north and recovery in wheat production following long-term drought. In the months prior to the recent storm, there had been very little rainfall. January precipitation was less than half of normal throughout the country. During the month of February, only the East and Central regions have received near normal rainfall.

The areas that benefited most from the recent precipitation are the North-East, East and Central regions of the country. These regions combined produce one-third of the country’s wheat. Approximately 80 percent of the wheat is irrigated.

More rain is needed to increase moisture reserves for winter crops and recharge irrigation supplies. Wheat output will depend largely on moisture availability during the critical reproductive to grain-filling stage in the spring. The crop will be harvested from June through July.