El Niño ‘Strongly Correlated with Positive Crop Yields’

  • Date: 04/08/15
  • Jessie Scott, AgriCulture.com

The arrival of El Niño may mean higher yields for corn and soybean growers, according to a new report issued by AgriBank that analyzes yield data in past El Niño years.

“No one can predict with certainty the impact El Niño or any weather patterns may have on crop production,” says Jerry Lehnertz, AgriBank. “However, our analysis of historical records indicates that, with a few exceptions, El Niño is strongly correlated with positive yields for both corn and soybean crops.”

How can you prepare for El Niño? “Pay close attention to the short- and long-range weather when you are planning for 2016 and marketing your 2015 crop,” advises Lehnertz. Also ensure that the appropriate risk-management tools are in place to protect your operation against extreme weather conditions.

Other highlights of the report include:
El Niño conditions present. Above-average sea surface temperatures have been recorded this spring and summer in parts of the Pacific Ocean and are forecasted to persist into 2016. These El Niño conditions can significantly impact U.S. weather patterns, including warmer-than-average temperatures over the western and northern U.S., wetter-than-average conditions over portions of the Gulf Coast and Florida, and drier-than-average conditions in the Ohio Valley and Pacific Northwest. 

El Niño has impacted crops in the past. The markets are pricing new-crop corn and soybean futures prices slightly higher due to recent wet weather in the eastern Corn Belt and Southern states. However, if predictions of a moderate to strong El Niño into 2016 are true, then history shows that it’s uncommon to have subpar national crop production results. The exception to this is where hot, dry weather occurs during the critical crop development phase in June and July. If predictions are correct, this could signal higher-than-expected corn and soybean yields this year.

Corn and soybean production mixed. Total U.S. planted corn acres for 2015 are at 88.99 million acres, according to the USDA NASS June 30 Acreage report. This is a 1.7 million-acre decline from 2014. Planted soybeans were estimated at 85.14 million acres, representing a 1.44 million-acre increase compared to last year. This is the highest number of soybean acres planted since 1960.

Read the full report here.

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