Taylor: Weak El Nino likely to linger
FORT DODGE – If the current neutral-to-El Nino weather pattern holds, U.S. farmers can anticipate a national corn yield average of between 162.3 bushels per acre to 171 bpa.
Under those numbers, the average December price for corn could range from $5.45 per bushel to $4.10, respectively.
These outlooks were offered Tuesday morning by Dr. Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University’s climatologist, offering a crop yield and weather look for the 2015 growing season.
Taylor was a speaker at the 2015 Iowa Corn Crop Fair Series, hosted by Iowa Central Community College, at its East Campus in Fort Dodge.
Taylor said a weak El Nino weather pattern developed in January, weakened further in February, but gained a little strength by March 27.
He said it’s likely the Corn Belt will remain under a relatively weak El Nino system.
If that holds true, he said, “there is a 70 percent chance of above-trendline yields this year.”
But with the overall weather pattern having moved into primarily volatile weather for the next 15 years, they need to brush up on their risk management skills.
“The risk management you’ve been practicing for the past years,” Taylor said, “was just that. Practice.
“Climate risk in agriculture is likely to be greater during the 15 years.”
He anticipates El Nino patterns will be weak, giving way to neutral or La Nina weather for the next two decades.
El Nino tends to bring crop-friendly cooler and wetter weather, while La Nina brings yield-robbing hot and dry weather.
According to Taylor, when a low pressure sits idle over the gulf of Alaska for six days, it generally means it will stay there for six weeks, holding back rain in the Corn Belt.
“That low pressure system in Alaska has lasted two weeks,” Taylor said. “In 1988, it lasted 12 weeks. The Yukon had its wettest year ever and the Corn Belt was bone dry.”
Because no two growing seasons are alike, but have many similarities, he recommend farmers develop their own trendline performances for their fields and the counties in which they farm.
“The weather that cut yields in half in the 1950s,” he said, ‘is the same weather that can cut yields in half today.”
Modern hybrids cannot stand up well against season-long adverse weather conditions.
“So you make or lose your money based on deviation from trends, not from overall bushels,” Taylor said.
Knowing a farm’s individual corn production trendline, he said, will help farmers know how to market their corn, especially selling the crop that is waiting to be planted.
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