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‘It has been a difficult planting season’

By Staff | May 13, 2019



The 2019 planting season has brought heavy rainfall, cool weather, flooding and snow, making conditions for getting the crops in the ground less than ideal for many producers.

In order to inform producers on what they can expect for the rest of May and into fall, DTN senior ag meteorologist Bryce Anderson presented a planting forecast update and spring weather outlook last week.

“It has been a difficult planting season here in 2019 and we thought it would be a great idea to bring a briefing to you and give you an update on how things are developing,” he said. “We are in a tough situation when it come to getting crops in the ground for this 2019 planting season.”

The tough situation comes from the cold and wet conditions, which aren’t necessarily anything new to producers trying to get their crops planted. But Anderson said it has not been to this extent for quite awhile.

“Wet ground and flooding will continue to be issues,” he said. “The flooding problem is going to stay with us this entire season, certainly in the western Corn Belt where we have had some extensive flood damage and road destruction along with the other problems with wet ground and places where soils have, in some cases, been ruined for this season because of flooding.”

“There will be continued acreage questions. It would not surprise me to see the preventative planting acreage go up for this year.”

The cold, wet pattern is not just covering the northern or western areas of the Corn Belt, but much of the central United States.

“It’s creating problems with not only doing field work, but it’s caused many transportation issues,” Anderson said. “We have experienced that over a wide area in the past couple of months. It’s also causing problems for moving grain into the export channels and creating complications as well as getting fertilizer into the main crop areas in order to be able to take care of that part of things for this year.”

“We just have a real complicated and difficult overall schedule facing us for the rest of this spring and possibly even into early summer,” he added.

What is to blame for this less than ideal weather?

According to Anderson, a weak El Nino is in place.

“The importance of this is that the implications are that El Nino will stay with us through the growing season,” he said. “With El Nino around, a big takeaway for me is that El Nino is a non-threatening Pacific contributor to the growing season conditions for this crop season. Once we get the crops in the ground, the growing season weather patter does look quite favorable.”

The importance of this is that the implications are El Nino will stay with us through the growing season.

The El Nino event is looking pretty solid, Anderson explained, to last through the balance of 2019 and in then into the winter season of 2020.

What can we expect for the rest of this month?

Anderson believes the slow spring is going to continue and it could be well into the latter part of May until conditions begin shaping up.

“There’s going to be some work here and there, but it’s going to be uneven, in my view,” he said. “As far as getting more of a generally wide opened prospect for field work, I don’t think it’s going to be, for sure, until the week after Mother’s Day – probably that May 20 timeframe.”

After what could be late spring planting season, Anderson said the summer does look promising.

“Once we can get the crops in the ground, I think that the growing season conditions are going to be quite favorable,” he said.

A big feature of the summer weather outlook for Anderson is that it does not look dry and hot over the major production areas of the country, adding we do not have drought as an issue going into the growing season.

“This is one of the most drought free charts that I have seen for a long time on the U.S. Drought Monitor, if ever, since the drought monitor began back in 2000,” he said.

The growing season looks promising.

“What could get in our way this fall, is when El Nino is in effect during the fall season, there is a higher likelihood for above normal precipitation,” he said. “I would not be surprised if we have a fall season that has some wetter features again this year. Am I calling for a fall harvest this season that is going to be as wet as we saw this past year? No, I’m not, but could there be some periods where there are some pretty heavy rain storms in part because of the presence of El Nino? That is certainly possible.”

Impacts of heavy rains

Heavy rain events are beginning to have an impact, Anderson said, in terms of historical crop yields. Research has shown that in the northwestern Corn Belt excessive rainfall is starting to have a real impact on a negative, yield dragging side on corn yields just as much as extreme drought does.

“This is important to keep in mind,” he said. “We may be hearing more about the impact of too much rain on yields and, of course then on how crop insurance details are put together and other associated yield dependent calculations. Excessive rain is starting to get into the picture when it comes to be a detriment on yields and who would have thought that with the adage being rain makes grain, but that is starting to become a big problem.”

International conditions

We could have some stiff competitions for exports this year as conditions in other high producing corn and soybean countries are flourishing.

“There is a better growing season than we have seen in some previous years in places like South America and the Black Sea region,” Anderson said.

In Brazil, there is adequate to surplus supply of soil moisture over their major crop producing areas. At this time, they are into their second crop, which is corn after the soybean harvest.

“The crop prospects are quite food and the rainfall forecast does not have the rainy season coming to an end in central Brazil in the next week,” he said. “Light to moderate amounts are in effect for the central part of the country, in general, I look at this map and I think about the late filling corn. I see rainfall and that’s favorable prospect in the Brazil situation.”

Argentina is seeing a dramatic turnaround from last year.

“A year ago, Argentina’s production was compromised,” he said. “It was reduced because of a weak La Nina event that developed in the Pacific during January to about late February, early March of 2018. That truly had an impact in the Argentina crop situation. It led to sharply lower harvest of both corn and soybeans.”

“This year, they’re going to have production approaching 50 percent larger than a year ago and maybe even a little bit greater than that for both soybeans and corn,” Anderson added. “That is obviously adding to the world grain supply.”

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