Alexander D Kleschenko Erodi K Zoidze And Vijendra K Boken

Drought has been posing serious problems for agricultural production in Russia. A well-known Russian scientist, Vavilov (1931), noted that droughts characterize Russian farming. Recently, in some Russian Federation regions, there has been a high probability of severe or extremely severe droughts (Pasechnyuk et al., 1977; ARRIAM, 2000; Kleschenko, 2000; Ulanova and Strashnaya, 2000; Zoidze and Khomyakova, 2000; table 15.1).

Numerous definitions of drought are available in the Russian literature (Bova, 1946; Alpatiev and Ivanova, 1958; David, 1965; Kalinin, 1981; Polevoy, 1992; Khomyakova and Zoidze, 2001). However, Kleschenko (2000) noted that all definitions are similar. Droughts are most frequently observed in Russia (Povolzhie, North Caucasus, Central-Chernozem regions, Ural, West and East Siberia) as well as in other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries: Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, and Armenia.

The Povolzhie, North-Caucasus, and Central-Chernozem regions contribute significantly to the Russian economy because these regions have fertile chernozems soils and produce most (about two-thirds) of the food grains—wheat and rye during the winter season and wheat, maize, and barley during the spring season. In recent moisture-favorable or nondrought years (1978, 1990 and 2001), the total grain production was 130 million tons, while during drought years (1975, 1981, 1995 and 1998), the production declined by half (Ulanova and Strashnaya, 2000).

Decline in food grain yields was observed from 1917 to 1990 in the former USSR, and since 1990 in the post-Soviet Russia. Rudenko (1958) reported that Ukraine experienced severe droughts during 1875, 1889, 1918, and 1921, when the spring wheat yield was 70% of the mean yield. A sudden depression in the winter rye yield was observed in Povolzhie region

Table 15.1 Recurrence (%) of extremely severe and severe droughts in different regions of Russia during 1946-95 period

Territory

May

June

July

Central-Chernozem Economic region (averaged)

23

18

16

Lipetzk region

30

26

10

Tambov region

40

30

14

Kursk region

26

16

16

Belgorod region

26

24

24

Voronezh region

30

34

16

Povolzhsky economic region (averaged)

30

30

40

Volgograd region

50

56

60

Saratov region

38

52

50

Samara region

36

30

30

Penza region

38

22

12

Ulianovsk region

34

20

14

Tatarstan

38

24

14

Astrakhan region

78

82

96

Kalmykia

56

54

72

North-Caucasus economic region (averaged)

16

18

26

Rostov region

26

26

48

Krasnodar territory

16

14

22

Stavropol territory

14

20

32

Source: Ulanova and Strashnaya (2000).

Source: Ulanova and Strashnaya (2000).

during severe droughts of 1890, 1898, and 1911, when the yield was less than 60%, and during 1906, when the yield was only 25% of the mean yield. During severe droughts in Russia during 1972, 1975, 1979, 1984, and 1995, the crop yield deviated by an average of 17-42% in Russia as a whole, up to 19-91% in the Central-Chernozem regions, up to 45-100% in Povolzhie region, 27-36% in the North-Caucasus region, and 21-100% in the Ural region (table 15.2).

Figure 15.1 shows the variation in winter and spring wheat yields, depending on the drought intensity during various developmental phases of

Table 15.2 Grain yield deviation (%) as compared to the averaged yield in drought years in Russia and some of its regions

Territory Drought year (yield deviation from the average, %)

Table 15.2 Grain yield deviation (%) as compared to the averaged yield in drought years in Russia and some of its regions

Territory Drought year (yield deviation from the average, %)

Russian Federation

1975

1979

1981

1984

1995

(32)

(19)

(37)

(17)

(42)

Central-Chernozem region

1975

1979

1981

1984

1995

(19)

(88)

(89)

(77)

(91)

Povolzhsky region

1972

1975

1979

1981

1984

1995

(53)

(100)

(45)

(68)

(72)

(79)

North-Caucasus region

1972

1975

1979

1995

(27)

(30)

(36)

(33)

Ural region

1975

1981

1984

1987

1995

(100)

(21)

(45)

(41)

(31)

Figure 15.1 The variation in winter and spring wheat yields in Volgograd region, Russia, for the 1950-2000 period.

the crop. For the areas under study, the winter wheat yield was twice as high as the spring wheat yield. For example, in Volgograd region as a whole, the mean winter wheat yield was 1.6 tons/ha, whereas the spring wheat yield was 0.8 tons/ha, during the 1951-2000 period. The same ratio (1.2 tons/ha in winter, and 0.6 tons/ha in spring season) was observed in Novoakhtubinsk area of Volgograd region during the 1972-2000 period (figure 15.2).

Both winter and spring wheat yields react to arid conditions. In Novoakhtubinsk region, for example, during severe droughts of 1972, 1975, 1979, 1984, and 1998, the spring wheat yield ranged from 0.01 to 0.1 tons/ha and the winter wheat yield had the same range during 1984,1998, and 1999. The drought problems were also severe for Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

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