Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Friday 01/23/15

Brazil Rain Update

Here is the latest summary of rainfall for January in the major soybean provinces of Brazil as compiled by my colleague Joel Burgio. For the season as an entirety, the only real "dry" province is Goias in the east-central portion of the country. But, for January specifically, there have been some notable departures from normal on the low side for not only Goias, but also Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, and even south into northern Parana.

A reminder--the month of January is the Brazil equivalent of July. Amounts shown are in inches.


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Station Jan Precip Pct Normal

Goiania 1.96 28

Catalao 2.45 27

Province Avg 2.21 27


Diamantino 6.82 92

Cuiaba 6.51 88

Province Avg 6.67 90


Campo Grande 4.76 72

Ivinheima 6.35 97

Province Avg 5.56 85


Londrina 4.79 76

Campo Moura 6.87 129

Foz do Iguacu 4.31 98

Irati 6.00 114

Curitiba 3.24 63

Province Avg 5.11 101


Irai 3.90 92

Campos Novos 11.42 231

Province Avg 7.66 162


Sao Luis Gonzaga 9.32 257

Passo Fundo 12.15 287

Bom Jesus 5.55 143

Santa Maria 4.77 127

Encruzilha 11.33 388

Province Avg 8.62 240


Posted at 2:55PM CST 01/23/15 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 01/22/15

Mild, Dry Weather Regime Well-Established in W. Canada

Winter is certainly on vacation across the prime cropland of Western Canada as we move into late January. Temperatures during the first 10 days of the month were mostly below and at times well below normal leading us to believe that we were in for another bitter cold winter like last year.

What a difference more recently: Temperatures during the most recent 10 days have averaged above to at times well above normal and have pretty much wiped out any negative temperature departure that was built up during the first third of the month.

Many areas have seen little precipitation, a theme started during December. The westerly flow of air coming down off the Rocky Mountains is mostly dry with any precipitation light and not widespread. Mid-winter is normally the driest time of year, but since December began we have seen low amounts even by Western Canada standards.

Snow cover lags behind normal for most of the region with only Alberta pretty much on par with what we might expect for mid-winter. Most of Saskatchewan and Manitoba have only a few inches (5 to 20 centimeters) of snow on the ground, while Alberta locations are reporting totals of 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm).

Most of our weather models that forecast out into the middle of February show only minor changes to the pattern that has evolved during the past week or so. A well-established ridge at upper levels across western parts of the U.S. and southwest Canada should keep temperatures at above and even well above normal most of the time.

We cannot rule out that a burst or two of much colder weather reaches the Prairies during the next few weeks since very cold air will be lying in wait across northern and eastern Canada. It would only take a subtle shift in the jet stream pattern to deliver some of this cold air into Western Canada but the overall weather pattern should keep any cold intrusion brief.

A trough in the upper levels will remain across eastern Canada with a polar vortex expected to cycle about through Quebec. The temperature pattern for eastern Canada during the next few weeks looks very cold with arctic air being featured.

Precipitation prospects for the Prairies do not look promising anytime soon. Weak clipper lows will pass mostly to the north of the region and bring little more than a few brief bouts of snow showers. Manitoba might see a little more action as storms track right through the province.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 9:50AM CST 01/22/15 by Doug Webster

Tuesday 01/20/15

Limited Western U.S. Snowpack Forecast

There's not a whole lot of snow for streamflow supplies in the western U.S. as of mid-January. Forecasts are decidedly mixed when it comes to particularly west of the Continental Divide looking ahead to the rest of this winter. Here's a USDA description of the situation.--Bryce

A snow pack depiction map from USDA shows most western U.S. river basins have below to much below normal snow pack. (USDA graphic by Nick Scalise)

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WASHINGTON, January 15, 2015 -- A normal water supply is predicted for much of the West, while the Southwest, Sierra Nevada region and Pacific Northwest are beginning the year drier than normal, according to data from the first 2015 forecast of USDA's National Water and Climate Center (NWCC). California, Arizona and New Mexico as well as parts of Colorado, Utah and Nevada are experiencing prolonged drought, focusing attention again on the winter snowfall.

"Right now, snowpack and streamflow forecasts look pretty close to normal for much of the West," NWCC hydrologist Cara McCarthy said. "A couple of major regional exceptions are the Southwest and California, which are unusually dry, once again."

In Western states where snowmelt accounts for the majority of seasonal water supply, information about snowpack serves as an indicator of future water availability. Streamflow in the West consists largely of accumulated mountain snow that melts and flows into streams as temperatures warm in spring and summer. NWCC scientists analyze the snowpack, air temperature, soil moisture and other measurements taken from remote sites to develop the water supply forecasts.

Overall, the basins of the Missouri, Colorado and Columbia rivers are expected to receive near normal streamflows.

In the Pacific Northwest, although rainfall during the fall months has been above average, the current snowpack is far below normal because of higher than normal temperatures.

"This is just the first forecast of the season; everything can change," McCarthy said. "A weak El Niño is forecast for this year, which might play a part in coming months."

Although variable, El Niño conditions tend to deliver more than normal winter precipitation to the Southwest and less to the Pacific Northwest.

In the West, the SNOTEL precipitation percent of normal map shows substantial precipitation in Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico so far in January (blue areas). Above normal precipitation is also reported in one basin in southern Utah, and one basin in central Arizona (light blue areas).

Below normal precipitation is located across most of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, northern and southwest Utah, southern Wyoming, Colorado, and northern New Mexico.


Posted at 2:23PM CST 01/20/15 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 01/16/15

Global Temps Set New Record Warm Levels in 2014

Following is a portion of the NOAA global climate report for 2014. The big feature for last year was that, for the world as a whole, the year 2014 was the warmest on record. The world temperature surpassed 1998--so much for the opinion that global warming has backed off in the past 16 years. Yes, it was cooler than average in North America--but many other locations around the world went far above their normals. And, the biggest warming trend is the Arctic. The trend there is in the category of "leaping" beyond the normals.

(Graphic courtesy NOAA)


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Global Highlights

The year 2014 was the warmest year across global land and ocean surfaces since records began in 1880. The annually-averaged temperature was 0.69 degree Celsius (1.24 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average of 13.9 deg C (57.0 deg F), easily breaking the previous records of 2005 and 2010 by 0.04 deg C (0.07 deg F). This also marks the 38th consecutive year (since 1977) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Including 2014, 9 of the 10 warmest years in the 135-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century. 1998 currently ranks as the fourth warmest year on record.

The 2014 global average ocean temperature was also record high, at 0.57 deg C (1.03 deg F) above the 20th century average of 16.1 deg C (60.9 deg F), breaking the previous records of 1998 and 2003 by 0.05 deg C (0.09 deg F). Notably, ENSO-neutral (neither El Nino nor La Nina) conditions were present during all of 2014.

The 2014 global average land surface temperature was 1.00 deg C (1.80 deg F) above the 20th century average of 8.5 deg C (47.3 deg F), the fourth highest annual value on record.

Precipitation measured at land-based stations around the globe was near average on balance for 2014, at 0.52 mm (approximately .50 inches) below the long-term average. However, as is typical, precipitation varied greatly from region to region. This is the third consecutive year with near-average global precipitation at land-based stations.

Global Temperatures

A record warm December sealed the deal to make 2014 the warmest year across the world's land and ocean surfaces since recordkeeping began in 1880. The average temperature for the year was 0.69 deg C (1.24 deg F) above the 20th century average of 13.9 deg C (57.0 deg F), beating the previous record warmth of 2010 and 2005 by 0.04 deg C (0.07 deg F).

This marks the third time in the 21st century a new record high annual temperature has been set or tied and also marks the 38th consecutive year (since 1977) that the annual temperature has been above the long-term average. To date, including 2014, 9 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred during the 21st century. 1998 currently ranks as the fourth warmest year on record.

This is the first time since 1990 the high temperature record was broken in the absence of El Nino conditions at any time during the year in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, as indicated by NOAA's CPC Oceanic Nino Index. This phenomenon generally tends to increase global temperatures around the globe, yet conditions remained neutral in this region during the entire year and the globe reached record warmth despite this.

Six months of 2014 (May, June, August, September, October, and December) were record warm, while April was second warmest, January, March, and July were fourth warmest for their respective months, and November was seventh warmest.

Overall, the global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.06 deg C (0.11 deg F) per decade since 1880 and at an average rate of 0.16 deg C (0.28 deg F) per decade since 1970.

Much of the record warmth for the globe can be attributed to record warmth in the global oceans. The annually-averaged temperature for ocean surfaces around the world was 0.57 deg C (1.03 deg F) higher than the 20th century average, easily breaking the previous records of 1998 and 2003 by 0.05 deg C (0.09 deg F). The first four months (January--April) each ranked among their seven warmest for their respective months and the following seven consecutive months (May--November) were record warm. The year ended with December third warmest on record for the month.

Prior to 2014, the highest monthly anomaly on record for the global oceans was 0.59 deg C (1.06 deg F) above the 20th century average, occurring in June 1998, October 2003, and July 2009. This all-time monthly record was broken in June 2014 (+0.62 deg C / +1.12 deg F), then broken again in August (+0.65 deg C / +1.17 deg F), and then broken once more in September (+0.66 deg C / +1.19 deg F)—that makes three all-time new monthly high global ocean temperature records set in a single calendar year. In fact, every month between May and November 2014 either tied or surpassed the all-time record high anomaly prior to 2014. This length of sustained record and near-record warmth has not been documented since 1997/1998 (record or near-record warm at that time), when a strong El Nino event occurred.

In 2014, the warmth was due to large regions of record warm and much warmer-than-average temperatures in parts of every major ocean basin. Record warmth for the year was particularly notable in the northeastern Pacific Ocean in and around the Gulf of Alaska, much of the western equatorial Pacific, parts of the western North Atlantic and western South Atlantic, and much of the Norwegian and Barents Seas. Nearly the entire Indian Ocean was much warmer than average with a broad swath between Madagascar and Australia record warm. Part of the Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland and the Southern Ocean waters off the southern tip of South America were much cooler than average, with one localized area near Antarctica record cold.

Temperatures were warmer than average across land surfaces as well. The global land temperature for 2014 was 1.00 deg C (1.80 deg F) above the 20th century average, the fourth highest annually-averaged value on record.

Because land surfaces generally have low heat capacity relative to oceans, temperature anomalies can vary greatly between months. In 2014, the average monthly land temperature anomaly rose from +0.31 deg C (+0.56 deg F) in February to +1.32 deg C (+2.38 deg F) in March, a difference of 1.01 deg C (1.94 deg F). These anomalies also represent the lowest and highest monthly anomalies observed during 2014. The ocean has a much higher heat capacity than land and thus anomalies tend to vary less over monthly timescales. During the year, the global monthly ocean temperature anomaly ranged from +0.46 deg C (+0.83 deg F; January, February) to +0.66 deg C (+1.19 deg F; September), a difference of 0.20 deg C (0.36 deg F).

The 1901-2000 average combined land and ocean annual temperature is 13.9 deg C (56.9 deg F), the annually averaged land temperature for the same period is 8.5 deg C (47.3 deg F), and the long-term annually averaged sea surface temperature is 16.1 deg C (60.9 deg F).

Most areas of the world experienced above-average annual temperatures... Record warmth was observed over various regions of the world's land surfaces, including Far East Russia into western Alaska, the western United States, parts of interior South America, most of Europe stretching into northern Africa, and parts of both eastern and western coastal Australia. It was also much warmer than average across many other land areas all across the globe.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that Europe was expected to have its warmest year in at least the past 500 years, surpassing its previous record set in 2007 by 0.3 deg C (0.5 deg F). Much of the warmth can be attributed to the second warmest winter on record, followed by a record warm spring for the continent. According to the WMO report, 19 European countries were expected to observe their hottest year on record, including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Temperatures are rising at a faster pace in the northern latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere compared with other parts of the globe. According to NOAA's 2014 Arctic Report Card, on average the Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate compared with lower latitudes. For the period October 2013--September 2014, the temperature for the Arctic was 1.0 deg C (1.8 deg F) higher than the 1981--2010 average. The Finnish Meteorological Institute reports that the average temperature for this country in northern Europe has risen by more than 2 deg C (3.6 deg F) since 1849, or 0.14 deg C (0.25 deg F) per decade, more than twice the global average. In the past four decades, the rise has accelerated, at 0.2 deg C (0.36 deg F) per decade.

In Asia, with national information available through November 2014 and records dating back to 1961, China observed eight months of above-average temperatures, including its second warmest January to begin 2014. With records dating back to 1884, Hong Kong was record warm during both June and July. The temperature was mixed throughout the year in South Korea. The year began with above-average temperatures across the country followed by its second warmest spring in the 42-year period of record. Summer was cooler than average while fall was warmer than average, and the year ended on a cool note with December 2.0 deg C (3.6 deg F) below the 1981--2010 average, with the average maximum temperature for the month the fifth lowest on record.

The African continent was also warmer than average overall during 2014. In mid-January a heat wave in South Africa brought record high daily temperatures. Tunisia was impacted by a heatwave in September, while Morocco saw October temperatures more than 3 deg C (5 deg F) above average.

In South America, temperatures were much warmer than average across most of the continent. Argentina observed its second warmest year on record, at 0.60 deg C (1.1 deg F) above the 1961--1990 average, surpassing 2013 to take this spot in the rankings. All three of the warmest years since national records began in 1961 have occurred in the past three years (2012 record warm and 2013 now third warmest on record).

Following its warmest year on record in 2013, 2014 was the third warmest in the 105-year period of record for Australia, with a mean temperature 0.91 deg C (1.64 deg F) higher than the 1961--1990 average, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The Australia fall season (March--May) was the third warmest on record for the country as a whole and spring (September--November) was record warm; only February was cooler than average. The annual warmth was also widespread, with every state except the Northern Territory ranking among its four warmest years on record. The most recent 10-year average (2005--2014) marks the warmest 10-year period since records began in 1910.

In contrast to all other land areas around the world, much of North America had below-average temperatures for much of the year, particularly during early 2014 due to a series of cold Arctic outbreaks and a persistent dip in the jet stream that moved warm air northward into Alaska and northern Europe and cold air southward into North America and central Russia. According to Environment Canada, it was the coldest meteorological winter (December 2013--February 2014) for the country since 1996, but with cold settling in before this official start to winter and remaining after its official end, Canada observed its coldest November--March since national records began in 1948. Record snowfall in some regions also accompanied the cold. Saskatoon had snow on the ground for six straight months, the longest period with continuous snow cover since records began there in 1955. The United States had its 33rd coolest winter in the 120-year period of record, with many states east of the Rockies having their coldest winter since the 1970s. The ice cover over the Great Lakes was the second largest since records began in 1973. On the other side of the dip in the jet stream, however, California was record warm for winter and Alaska was eighth warmest, with its records dating back to 1918. For the year, Alaska and California were both record warm along with two other western states: Nevada and Arizona.

There are many other details in the report--with record or near-record precipitation in parts of Europe, for example, along with a very dry year in Australia. The full report with graphics is at this link:…

Posted at 4:16PM CST 01/16/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (5)
Good info on our ever changing weather. One question though, How does the WMO know what the temp was 500 yrs ago ?
Posted by GWL 61 at 5:06PM CST 01/16/15
Many different studies incorporating both physical information such as tree ring data and computer modeling have been used to reach the conclusion that Europe temperatures in 2014 were the warmest in at least the past 500 years. The 500-year benchmark reference would not have been published had there not been repeated findings to support that reference.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 6:58AM CST 01/17/15
Good science eliminates outside factors. Tree growth is highly influenced by rainfall amounts and timing. Computer modeling is influenced by whatever data someone considers appropriate.
Posted by Curt Zingula at 1:03PM CST 01/17/15
Then why have we been told that there has been a 19 year hiatus on warming. The earth hasn't warmed since 1996. We're told scientists who believe in global warming are struggling to explain this phenomena. Somebody is lying.
Posted by JEFF RIDDER at 6:37PM CST 01/19/15
The notion that the earth has not warmed since the mid-1990s was out there about 3 years ago. Since then, this opinion has been debunked by research done by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The increase in global temperatures has slowed, but the oceans have taken up heat at a faster rate since the turn of the century. Over 90 percent of the overall extra heat goes into the oceans, with only about 2 percent heating the Earth's atmosphere. The myth of the "pause" is based on ignoring 98 percent of global warming and focusing exclusively on the one bit that's slowed.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 5:49AM CST 01/20/15

Thursday 01/15/15

Above-Normal Temperatures Bring Relief to Western Canada

The recent rebound in temperatures across Canada has been brought about by the relaxation and northward displacement of the polar vortex through northeastern Canada. Ridging along the North America's West Coast has weakened and allowed Pacific air to arrive that is a whole lot milder than the arctic air it replaced.

The cold air making mechanism has been mostly put on hold for the time being across western and central Canada leaving the region with a milder-than-normal temperature regime. We will see a couple of brief incursions of arctic air across Manitoba into the early weekend, but for the western Prairies temperatures will average above to well above normal.

Despite the big warm-up, no major changes to the overall dry pattern are seen with the new weather pattern. December was quite dry versus normal across Western Canada and so far January has not been much of a snow producer for most areas either. Both the cold pattern of early January and our new mild pattern are dry ones.

The early month pattern featured persistent cold air moving southward from northwestern Canada which brings little moisture with it. The hope with the cold weather pattern is that some moisture can be squeezed out when the winds upslope against the mountains. We did see a little of this, but not in any widespread fashion.

The new mid-month mild pattern is featuring westerly winds which downslope off the Rockies and bring generally dry weather to the region. Moisture from the Pacific gets rung out against the west slopes of the Rockies and never makes it to the Prairies.

Many of the computer model outputs we look at indicate that the mild, dry pattern we're now seeing may not have lasting power. By the time we reach the last week of January there are indications that a renewed ridge near the North America's West Coast will block the modifying influence of the Pacific across Western Canada and the polar vortex may reform across the Hudson Bay region.

This possible new weather pattern will bring back the cold air making mechanism we saw early in the month and may very well send temperatures plunging again after about another week of moderate temperatures. It is still unclear if the return to cold weather will allow for some upslope snow conditions, but one of the models does show above-normal precipitation for late January and early February.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:45AM CST 01/15/15 by Doug Webster

Friday 01/09/15

Brazil Soy Estimates May Have Maxed Out

The Brazil ag ministry, abbreviated CONAB, issued its latest projection for the 2015 Brazil soybean crop this week, with a 95.9 million metric ton number. That is obviously a huge crop--amounting to more than 3.5 billion bushels. It's not quite equal to the U.S. total of 3.8 billion bushels or so (depending on what we see in Monday's report) but it's certainly in shouting distance.

However, the way the weather pattern is acting, that 95.9 mmt projection could quite possibly be the high-water mark for this year's Brazil crop. The general trends have been favorable, but the past couple weeks have not been quite as crop-friendly, even in the largest soybean-growing state, Mato Grosso. I asked some farmer acquaintances in Mato Grosso about what was happening, and got some details that don't exactly sound like bodacious crop weather. They are distilled below:

Rainfall this week was very welcome; in some parts of Mato Grosso, farmers are complaining about 11 to 12 days without any rain. There are quite a few parts of Mato Grosso where soils are sandy, and for blooming and pod-filling beans, drier conditions are not good.

Some of the large-scale farms have started harvesting. These operations plant their beans very early (probably in mid-September), which is a high-risk practice considering that the rainy season in some years has not started by then (a situation that occurred for this crop year). The big operations will follow their soybeans with a second crop of either corn or cotton.

Yields from the early harvest are quite variable, depending on whether rain fell during September-October. There are good yields of around 45 to 50 bushels per acre, but there are also much lower yield reports in the 30-35 bushel per acre range. Yields under irrigation will likely run in the range of 50-55 bushels per acre. But in similar areas without irrigation, the yield will likely run around 37 to 41 bushels per acre, about 15 bushels per acre less than irrigated soybeans.

Considering that almost every farm in Mato Grosso has some sandy ground, and needs consistent rains for soil moisture (which has not occurred this season), it's hard to believe that the state will have the same yield as last year.

Another risk factor that is still a part of the scene is soybean rust. Because of the September-October dryness, the Mato Grosso planting season was late. That means more risk related to soybean rust control. It has not appeared so far, but the threat is still there.

Last year, the total production for Mato Grosso was 26.3 million metric tons or 966.26 million bushels. Area harvested was 8.4 million hectares or 21 million acres. The yield was 3,130 kilograms per hectare or 47.0 bushels per acre. But, considering the iffy-ness of rainfall we have seen, that 2014 number may not be duplicated.

We all know that Mato Grosso is the big kahuna of Brazil's row crop agriculture. And if the big producer has an issue, that will have a notable ripple across the board.

And, that's why I think it is possible that we have seen the top number for Brazil's soybean crop this year.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 4:33PM CST 01/09/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
hope youre right
Posted by Stan Schoen at 8:13PM CST 01/13/15

Thursday 01/08/15

Very Cold Pattern Breaks Down in W. Canada

After a milder-than-normal December, 2 to 4 degrees Celsius (4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) for most areas, we've seen January bring us a heavy helping of what last winter offered. The arctic air manufacturing machine got back into business as the new year began but this time around the staying power looks to be limited.

The very cold weather across Canada so far in January has mostly been produced by a strong ridge extending north just off the West Coast of North America blocking any modifying influence of the Pacific. The polar vortex has been swirling about through northern Quebec and the Hudson Bay region during the past week flinging surges of cold air south across much of Canada.

This pattern certainly can produce cold weather and temperature departures have been on the order of 10 to 16 degrees Celsius (18 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal at times across Western Canada during the past week. This pattern lacks something that was in place last winter and that's the strong high latitude blocking that kept last winters' pattern in place for months on end.

The pattern of early January 2015 has a high amplitude ridge and trough pattern and these types of patterns usually do not last long before de-amplification takes place. It appears this process will get underway this weekend into next week as the ridge along Canada's West Coast weakens and the polar vortex lifts to northeastern Canada. The result will be more of a west-to-east jet stream flow across southern Canada and the northern U.S. next week allows some Pacific Ocean influence and rising temperatures.

The strong arctic high pressure system centers of the past week will weaken and shift more into eastern Canada during the next several days allowing for the beginnings of some downslope winds across Western Canada. By the early and middle of next week we should see temperatures move up to normal and possibly somewhat above normal for the western Prairies.

Model projections indicate that milder-than-normal temperatures will occur more of the time than not for the next two weeks as some of the El Nino aspects of the December weather pattern return. Unlike last winter when cold weather was the nearly permanent feature, we are most likely to see more variable weather for the rest of winter. Don't be surprised to see cold weather return very late this month or during part of February, but that probably won't last too long.

Without the strong high latitude blocking like we observed last winter, expect changeable weather for the remaining winter, sometimes bitter cold, other times quite moderate.

Precipitation was lacking during December and so far during January, and neither the mild or cold part of the types of weather patterns we are seeing during the next few weeks look to produce significant precipitation. The sustained upslope precipitation-producing winds against the Rockies that we saw many times last year are likely not to be a feature of the weather during the next few weeks.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 9:53AM CST 01/08/15 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 01/07/15

Favorable South America Weather Pattern

OMAHA (DTN) -- The South America row-crop season began on a rather ominous note. Extensive dryness in Brazil's top soybean-producing state, Mato Grosso, delayed the start of soybean planting from mid-September into mid-October over many acres.

Soybean crop projections for Brazil are likely to increase due to beneficial weather conditions. (DTN photo by By Kieran Gartlan)

However, rain began at the end of October with enough of a break between showers for growers to roll the planters. Now Brazil is on pace for a record soybean crop, which seems to grow larger with each official estimate.

"Generally the situation is good ... Depending on what your number is, whether it's 91 million or even 95 million metric tons as some say, there's no reason to change your number," said DTN South America Correspondent Alastair Stewart.

The rain has continued across Brazil's soybean belt through December. USDA's weekly crop and weather bulletin noted that Christmas week brought additional rain to all major growing regions.

"Widespread, locally heavy rain maintained adequate to abundant levels of moisture for soybeans and other summer row crops," the report said. According to the report, there were 50 millimeters (2 inches) or more of rain over a broad area that stretched from Mato Grosso southward to Rio Grande do Sul. There were even areas with rain greater than 100 mm (4 inches) evenly distributed throughout the affected area.

To DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino, the start and continuation of rain in Brazil shows the general dependability of the South America climate, especially in Mato Grosso. "It's very hard to keep that region dry," Palmerino said.

Farther south, Argentina has also received rainfall supporting adequate soil moisture for crops and near-average progress.

The Pacific Ocean temperature pattern trending toward El Nino offers further support for crops. El Nino is a pattern where the equatorial Pacific Ocean off the South American coast has consistently above-normal temperatures.

Studies of weather patterns in Argentina point to a high correlation between El Nino formation and above-average rainfall during the Southern Hemisphere summer.

At this point in early 2015, there are very few threats to Brazil and Argentina crop prospects. Palmerino believes the only possible issue could be if El Nino diminishes before the South America crop season is completed.

"We're clearly in a rainy pattern over central Brazil," Palmerino said. "The only thing to keep an eye on is if El Nino fades into the first quarter, which would allow for weather patterns to not be as active in southern Brazil through central Argentina."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at


Posted at 7:15AM CST 01/07/15 by Bryce Anderson

Tuesday 01/06/15

Mild Midsummer Pattern Possible for Midwest Corn Crop

OMAHA (DTN) -- With the primary driver of the weather forecast for the first part of the 2015 year being a weak El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean, attention during January will to some extent, focus on corresponding crop performance.

Analog forecast charts show mild midsummer weather patterns in the Midwest. Hotter and drier conditions are confined to the Southern Plains. (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise)

El Nino, where the equatorial Pacific Ocean off the South American coast has consistently above-normal temperatures, is expected to decline to a neutral phase by late spring or early summer. If that scenario pans out, there may be favorable growing conditions in many primary crop areas.

The previously-described scenario summarizes how weather has been in comparable years to what conditions are expected for midwinter in 2014-15. Those comparable years are called "analog years" and, at this time, those years offer at least a benchmark to get an idea of crop production potential.

It's a promising one if you like big crops. For example, the July analog-year comparison for a weak El Nino easing into a neutral phase by summer features mostly normal to below-normal temperatures in the Midwest and below normal in the Northern Plains -- very similar to this past summer. The precipitation outlook is also crop-friendly in the Midwest, expecting mostly above-normal amounts, with that same type of trend forecast for the Northern Plains.

Chances for precipitation in the Midwest and Northern Plains ring true to DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino's view of a variable winter weather pattern, which would offer better prospects for moisture in the Northern Plains and the western Midwest as spring approaches. Much of this region, from the Great Lakes to the Rockies, is classified as having "abnormally dry" conditions according to the Dec. 23, 2014, Drought Monitor.

"There is some dryness in the northwestern Corn Belt, but as we get closer to spring, we're likely to see a thermal boundary set up in those states," Palmerino said. "If you maintain some thermal contrast going forward, you could have a third straight year of spring storms in that area."

The pattern is less favorable in the Southern Plains, Delta and Southeast. These areas have above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation -- in other words, a very warm and mostly dry pattern during the heart of the growing season. That combination is potentially stressful to crops.

However, it's also the sector of the country where precipitation is likely to focus this winter with some El Nino influence, and thus has potential to receive some important soil moisture ahead of planting.

"The majority of moisture during the rest of the winter is likely to emphasize the southern and eastern Midwest, on south," Palmerino said.

That prospect, along with the traditional Corn Belt sporting the summer analog combination that it does, makes it hard to come up with a problematic scene for crops this coming summer.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at


Posted at 12:55PM CST 01/06/15 by Bryce Anderson

Monday 01/05/15

Variable Winter Weather to Continue

OMAHA (DTN) -- The early weather trends of North America's 2014-15 winter can be described as variable, volatile, or simply one of change.

A weak El Nino Pacific Ocean pattern appears set to help influence U.S. weather trends the balance of this winter season. (DTN photo by Bryce Anderson)

Following a very cold November which gave an early taste of winter weather, official winter started in December with very mild weather and a leg up on avoiding a repeat of the 2013-14 season dominated by the polar vortex.

"It was something that came out of the blue," said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino. "We took on more of an El Nino characteristic -- where temperatures have been warm and it's been rather wet, particularly in the southern and eastern United States."

El Nino -- where the equatorial Pacific Ocean off the South American coast has consistently above-normal temperatures -- is a point of some controversy. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the Australia Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) both label the Pacific as being in a "neutral" condition. It is the opinion of DTN meteorologists that the Pacific is already in a weak El Nino phase, with such occurrences as recent storms in the western U.S. and a rainy scenario to start South America's crop season as prominent features.

"There's an ongoing discussion that we're either in El Nino or right at the edge," said South Dakota Extension State Climatologist Dennis Todey. "There's a question about how much that's going to continue."

Temperatures showed variability again when they turned much lower in late December after a mild beginning to the month. Still, the rest of the winter season shows a low probability of matching the harsh, seemingly-endless cold weather of a year ago.

"I don't think we're going to lock in (with a cold pattern) as much as we did" in 2013-14, Todey said. "Last year, once we got cold we stayed cold. Even the cold that we've had seems worse than last winter, but actually it's been fairly close to normal."

As for precipitation, Palmerino looks for that feature to target the southern and eastern crop areas more than the western and the northern Midwest. "In terms of the Great Plains/northwest Corn Belt, they won't see much," he said. "The northwestern Midwest and the Plains will be rather dry throughout the remainder of the winter."

Whether that drier trend in the northwestern Corn Belt is a problem is still to be determined. Todey said it's too early to be worried, however.

"Am I concerned? No, but I'm aware (of drier soils)," Todey said. "But some drier ground could be a partial benefit because producers may see soils warm up faster in the spring and give an opportunity to do field work sooner."

As for market reaction, DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom has not seen grain markets show much worry about potential winter impact on next season's North America crop weather.

"With a round of cold weather and more snow moving into the Midwest, cash grain sales could remain slow in January. As always, basis and spreads will tell the story if the market starts to get nervous about having enough supplies to meet demand," Newsom said.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Posted at 12:50PM CST 01/05/15 by Bryce Anderson

Wednesday 12/31/14

Limited Corn Belt Soil Moisture Issues

Year-to-year comparisons on soil moisture for the northwestern Corn Belt offer some interesting details regarding where we might find ourselves going into field work season in 2015. The driest area of the Midwest is the northwestern sector, and so I'm using Minnesota as the example state for the area.

"December Drought Monitor comparisons in Minnesota show that drought in the highest-production counties in the south was actually more intense going into 2014 than we see now approaching 2015." (Maps courtesy NOAA; graphic compiled by Nick Scalise)

As we look at Drought Monitor conditions, we note that the soil moisture scene a year ago was actually less over the primary row crop counties than we're seeing now, at the end of calendar year 2014. A year ago, the primary corn and soybean counties of Minnesota generally had Drought Monitor level I (Moderate Drought) conditions in place. That drier trend had begun during a dry and very warm to hot spell in August 2013, and lasted through the winter and the first half of spring.

Drought conditions, while not getting much worse, did not get better, either, until mid to late April. Then, with the mixed blessing of a stormy late spring and heavy rainfall, drought conditions eased and the state became officially drought-free by the week of June 24, 2014.

That drought-free state of affairs ran until early August, when dryness began in the southern portion of the state. However, only patches of dry conditions were noted until early November, when most of the state was judged to have Drought-Zero or Abnormally Dry conditions. That was basically a run of four and one-half months where the large majority of the state was drought-free.

Now, we come to the end of the calendar year, when the Drought-Zero category is in effect, but almost no Drought Level I or Moderate Drought shows up.

The point of this discussion is that, while there is some dryness in the northwestern Corn Belt, the situation is 1) not as dry as it was a year ago at the same time; and 2) capable of changing quickly during the growing season.

So, we should take note of the drier areas in the northwestern Corn Belt. But it's too early to place a great deal of concern on this detail. After all, there's still 4 1/2 months to go before corn planting.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 2:45PM CST 12/31/14 by Bryce Anderson

Tuesday 12/30/14

Ice Box Takes Hold Across Canada

Arctic air has taken hold across nearly all of Canada during the past several days sending temperatures down to below normal levels and the downward trend is not done yet. As arctic high pressure continues to build across the western half of Canada during the next several days to a week temperatures will continue to spiral downward as skies remain clear and any warmth near the Earth's surface radiates into space.

Record cold is not expected but well below normal temperatures certainly are for much of western, central, and east-central Canada during the next week or so.

The about face of the weather pattern has all come about due to a combination of a developing upper level ridge through the eastern Pacific northward into Alaska an evolving polar vortex through northeastern Canada. This pattern blocks the eastward progression of modifying Pacific warmth across Canada and allows for the development of arctic air over the snow covered landscape.

This pattern is somewhat like what we experienced last winter except that blocking is not nearly as big of a player thus far. This time around the large-scale ridge/trough pattern is the main player making the ability to keep this pattern in place for a lengthy period of time less likely.

The eastern Pacific ridge may weaken or break down for a time late next week and toward the middle of January allowing for a moderation in the cold. That does not mean we are done with cold because there are signs that a renewed eastern Pacific ridge may return near or just after the middle of January. The key to how much cold may come back will be on where or how strong the polar vortex is.

The prospects for snow increase as we move into the weekend and cold air moving up against the Rockies increases. This upslope wind flow pattern may produce light to moderate snows across Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan along with bitter cold temperatures. Eastern portions of the Prairies are much less prone to seeing snow with this pattern but a couple of periods of light snow or flurries can not be ruled out.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 11:18AM CST 12/30/14 by Doug Webster

Monday 12/29/14

California Drought Rundown

The USDA weekly weather and crop bulletin for December 23 has a very thorough review of the extent of drought issues in California. They are worth noting for the combination of out-of-bounds dryness and out-of-bounds heat that have plagued the Far West. Details are below.

California 36-month mean temperature Dec 2011-Nov 2014 hit 60 deg F -- a big "leap" of more than 2 deg F above the 57.4 deg F 100-year mean temperature. (Graphic courtesy NOAA)


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

During the last 3 weeks, precipitation in California has begun to chip away at staggering, 3-year rainfall deficits. The rain has boosted topsoil moisture, benefited winter grains, and allowed rangeland and pastures to begin a gradual recovery process.

However, major long-term impacts—such as low reservoir levels and groundwater depletion—remain. In addition, California's recent spate of wet weather did not result in much high-elevation snow, leading to concerns about a spring runoff shortfall unless "colder" storms materialize during the next few months.

California recently completed its driest 36 months on record for all 3-year periods ending in November, according to the National Climatic Data Center. From December 2011-November 2014, California's precipitation averaged 45.39 inches, just 67 percent of normal. Effectively, the state has received 2 years of precipitation in the last 3 years. Previously, the previous driest such period occurred from December 1974-November 1977, when an average of 47.68 inches fell.

Consistently high temperatures have complicated California's drought situation by increasing evaporation rates and boosting irrigation demands. Since 1895, California's temperatures have never been higher than they have been over the last 3 years. From December 2011-November 2014, California's average temperature of 60.0 degrees Fahrenheit was 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century mean.

California's 154 in-state reservoirs continue to languish at near-record low levels. At the end of November, storage was just 55 percent of the long-term average, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Only 1977 featured lower storage at this time of year. During the current drought, which began in late 2011, statewide reservoir storage fell below this historic average in March 2013. This lag in reservoir impacts helps to highlight the disconnect that exists in California (and elsewhere in the western U.S.) between meteorological drought and managed water systems.

In the Sierra Nevada, snowpack has improved during a stormy period in December 2014 but remains below average. The snowpack on December 22, 2014 measured five inches. In the 2012-13 season, that snowpack amount measured eight inches--with the normal amount for the date at 10 inches.

For the three weeks from December 1-21, 2014, these are the rainfall totals and normal values (in inches) for selected California cities:

Location Total Normal

San Francisco Airport 10.62 2.59

Redding 10.24 4.11

Eureka 8.84 5.58

Sacramento 8.59 2.11

San Diego 4.42 0.95

Los Angeles Airport 3.73 1.24

Fresno 2.29 1.08

Bakersfield 1.87 0.64


Posted at 10:43AM CST 12/29/14 by Bryce Anderson

Tuesday 12/23/14

Cold Air to Make a Return to Canada

The mild conditions observed across Canada during most of December are about to become a memory as upper level wind patterns are beginning to shift. The flow of modifying westerly Pacific winds is already beginning to wane and during the next several days a modest ridge will take shape across the Gulf of Alaska blocking the Pacific flow.

The polar vortex has either been cycling about near the North Pole or has been on the Asian side of the pole during most of December and has been weak. If our model projections are correct, changes are also coming for the pool of swirling high level winds as well.

Current indications are for the polar vortex to strengthen and slowly move southward to the Hudson Bay region by this time next week. The combination of the evolving polar vortex and ridge through the eastern Gulf of Alaska will create a cold air making pattern for a large portion of Canada next week. Arctic air which has been mostly absent during the past couple of weeks will return in a big way as surface high pressure builds across western Canada allowing for radiational cooling over the widespread snow cover.

Below and possibly well below normal temperatures may visit the Prairies before we are done with December. More cold weather may be in the works for the new year as well but there appears to be a difference with the expected upcoming pattern to that of last winter.

The persistent blocking we saw last winter led to the nearly endless cold for several months. This time around there appears to be minimal amounts of blocking and this may produce more of a cyclical temperature pattern for western Canada as we move into January. The location of the main polar vortex may be across northeastern Canada allowing for interruptions in the cold weather pattern.

Even if the more changeable temperature pattern is what we see during the next few weeks a significant return of winter weather is most definite for next week into early January. As for snow potential with the new pattern, more often than not we see a burst of light to moderate snow as cold air arrives and moves up against the mountains with the threat of major snowfall mostly limited.

With the expected limited high latitude blocking during the next few weeks, the door remains open for some warm spells as down sloping winds develop off of the Rockies. A weak El Nino also remains in place which favors milder weather for western Canada so even though the cold is coming in the short term, it probably will not be as persistent as last winter.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 11:20AM CST 12/23/14 by Doug Webster

Friday 12/19/14

A Look at 2015 Growing Season

There is not much of a lag from one crop season to the next. Judging from the conversations I've been in with farmers recently, I get the idea that for U.S. weather, there is about a four-week lag time -- basically, the month of November -- until the questions switch from "What's the winter going to be like?" to "How does it look for next year?"

Analog forecast charts show mild midsummer weather patterns in the Midwest. Hotter and drier conditions are confined to the Southern Plains. (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise)

In that regard, the primary driver of the forecast is a weak El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean during the rest of the 2014-15 winter and through most of the spring season in 2015, followed by a pullback to a neutral Pacific during the summertime. And, if that scenario pans out, we are looking at favorable growing conditions in many primary crop areas.

The above comment is not a forecast, but it is a summary of how the weather has been in comparable years with similar conditions to right now in effect. Those comparable years are called "analog years"; and, at this time, the analog-year feature is as good as any to use to get an idea of what might be the situation.

And, it's a promising one if you like big crops. For example, the July analog-year comparison for a weak El Nino easing into a neutral phase by summer features mostly normal to below-normal temperatures in the Midwest and below normal in the Northern Plains -- in other words, very similar to this past summer. The precipitation outlook is also crop-friendly in the Midwest, showing mostly above-normal amounts, with this same type of trend over the Northern Plains as well.

The pattern is less favorable in the Southern Plains, Delta and Southeast. These areas have above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation -- in other words, a very warm and mostly dry pattern during the heart of the growing season. That combination is potentially stressful to crops, of course.

Still, with the traditional Corn Belt sporting the combination that it does, it's hard to come up with a problematic scene for crops this coming summer. And, if farmers are asking these kinds of questions, it's likely the market is checking such details out as well.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:58PM CST 12/19/14 by Bryce Anderson
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