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Planting delays dominate spring weather outlook

By Staff | Apr 6, 2018



Planting delays this spring could be the result of a lingering La Nina weather pattern, with corn and soybean yields predicted to come in at or just under trend line, according to Bryce Anderson, senior meteorologist for DTN.

Anderson looks for corn yields to come in around 170 bu/acre, with soybeans around the upper 40s or low 50 bu/acre range.

“One year ago things looked like they would come in below trend line, but then the (mild) temperatures of August favored the crops during the fill stage,” Anderson said.

Conditions are turning toward the “neutral” value and, according to Anderson, the La Nina weather pattern will most likely not remain throughout the growing season. He added much of the central U.S. is stuck in a colder and wetter spring weather pattern.

He expects weather patterns to be in a “neutral” pattern from late spring and throughout the summer, and switching to El Nino by fall.

“That’s important to us because when cool waters of the Pacific are in effect throughout the growing season (as in La Nina), some years the yields are much less than trend line,” said Anderson.

He added that history points to the notion of La Nina at the beginning of the growing season relating to poor yields. It happened in 1974, 1988, 2010 – when national corn yields were below the previous year’s yields by 14 bu/acre – 2011 – with national corn yields coming in at 147 bu/acre – and in 2012, with a national corn yield of 123 bu/acre due to extreme drought conditions during the growing season.

“When we see the Pacific likely going toward a neutral level for most of the growing season, it’s fairly promising that yields could be in trend line capacity,” Anderson said, adding the northern half of Iowa will experience a slower start to spring due to frequent cold, enhanced snowfalls and a protracted winter.

Southern Iowa is experiencing a moderate drought, but it is not expected to last.

The U.S. drought monitor shows extreme to exceptional droughts in the Southwest Plains, and severe drought in the Northern Plains and west of the Missouri River in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. The drought forecast calls for some easing in the Northern Plains.

Anderson said Texas farmers are facing issues with soil crusting as a result of heavy rainfalls following planting.

“That could cause a switch of commodities being planted,” he said.

Additionally, he said that, in a large portion of the Midwest, cold temperatures will create more issues than anything else, with soil temperatures taking a long time to become adequate for planting. General temperatures are calling to be cooler in the north with more heavy precipitation in the Midwest, delaying planting.

Anderson said hay and forage production would most likely be adequate, but not a surplus situation.

Globally, he said the whole of the growing area in Brazil is favorable, and that their crops will be good this year due to adequate to surplus supplies of subsoil moisture.

“Brazil production is likely to hit record status,” said Anderson, adding that corn production will be more than 172 bu/acre.

Argentina, on the other hand, is experiencing drought conditions, with withered crops over the entire central crop area. Rainfall there is at a 70-year low.

“It’s 100 percent related to the La Nina influence, with dry soils,” said Anderson.

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