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El Nino supports trendline yields

By Staff | Feb 4, 2016

“The El Nino we are in now is tracking closer to 1982 and ’83. 1983 turned out to be a difficult growing season.” —Bryce Anderson DTN senior meteorologist



Forecasters call for El Nino weather patterns to start out the 2016 growing season and lasting until early summer before switching to a more La Nina-like pattern by late summer.

Proposed weather models indicate that cool summer temperatures are less likely to persist and that trendline yields of 169.2 bushels per acre for corn are attainable.

This is due in part to favorable soil moisture conditions 2015 lasting well into late fall and early winter.

Jeff Johnson, chief science officer for DTN, said a La Nina weather pattern would force dryer conditions when it moves in.

He said March through May analogs suggest cooler weather in the western half of the United States and warmer in the east.

Bryce Anderson, DTN senior meteorologist, said predicted weather patterns do not look as ideal as they did in 2015 for spring field work.

“The El Nino we are in now is tracking closer to 1982 and ’83, and then to 1997-98,” he said “The evolution of the ocean features are more like 1997-98 than the others.

“1983 turned out to be a difficult growing season, while 1997-98 was a little more favorable,” Anderson added. “We are in historical territory regarding El Nino.”

Anderson said he tends to be optimistic that drought conditions will not enter into the picture as much this growing season because soil moisture levels are secure at this point. This follows heavy rains and snows during 2015’s fall and early winter.

“This is where we were in 1998 and 2016, comparing El Nino seasons,” Anderson said, adding that in January 1998, much of the central U.S. had normal soil moisture supplies.

He said precipitation maps show few areas in the central U.S. with dry soils.

“You have to go to northern Minnesota, central North Dakota and into the northern Rockies and Montana and Wyoming,” Anderson said. “There’s plenty of soil moisture to work with and I think that’s optimistic in terms of what it brings to the party and in terms of the overall prospects for this year.”

Anderson said because of the plentiful soil moisture supply, he didn’t think U.S. producers would see a recurrence of the 1988 drought that struck quickly.

He said the U.S. Drought Monitor shows little existence of dryness anywhere in the Midwest or in major crop areas of the U.S.”There is some abnormal dryness in areas of central North Dakota and a few dry pockets in parts of the Great Lakes and the Southeast, and over the Rockies and west,” said Anderson. “There has been notable improvement in Washington State and the interior Pacific Northwest.

“There may even be a little chewing away of the drought in California if some of these storms there continue.”

He added Argentina has seen dryness in several major crop areas in January. Some of the biggest row crop areas in Argentina are areas where dry conditions exist.

“This will be a watch area because it has a close relationship to what is happening in the Pacific,” he said. “If we start to see any sort of tendency towards La Nina, there would be a lot of ripple effects showing up in Argentina.”

He said soil moisture levels in Brazil are variable, and that dryer conditions are beginning to show up in the southern part of the country, specifically in Rio Grande do Sul, which he said is the third largest soybean-growing state in Brazil.

It has received less than 50 percent of what it normally receives during the month of January to date, Anderson said.

“As we finish out this winter in the northern hemisphere and go into spring, the welfare of the South American soybean crop (to a large extent) and the corn crop (to a lesser extent) are going to be watched closely by the trade.

In terms of recent rainfall in Brazil since January, we saw moderate to heavy amounts in Mato Grosso – the largest soybean-producing state.”

Anderson said U.S. producers should be on track to match trends for corn (in mid-160s) and soybean production (45-46 bushel level).

“It will be an achievement if yields can get over that mid-160 figure,” said Anderson. “That’s not a crop failure, but it’s not necessarily raising the bar.”

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