Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Wednesday 05/27/15

Crop report and weather highlights.

The latest crop reports issued on Tuesday afternoon had few surprises. Most of the Midwest is wet. This has slowed the remaining soybean planting and may force some replanting in areas of excessive rainfall. Planted corn and soybeans could use more sunshine and less rain to help with crop development. Overall conditions for corn and soybeans remain good heading into June.

The southern plains and Texas are excessively wet. We are now beyond the point where this is of benefit to the winter wheat crop. We are now beginning to see reports of increasing disease issues for the maturing crop. Producers are also having problems planting soybeans with progress falling further behind normal. There are also some issues with replanting.

Soil moisture conditions have improved across the northern plains after a dry start to spring allowed for rapid planting of spring wheat, corn and soybeans. With the improved soil moisture conditions and rapid planting progress crop conditions may now be the best among the major growing areas of the central US.

The Delta states are also experiencing favorable conditions with a majority of crops now in the ground. The Southeast states are experiencing some dryness, especially Georgia due to the impact of the Bermuda high over the eastern US.

The Bermuda high could be a major player in the weather pattern in the US this summer. As El Nino developed in the pacific this spring the persistent ridge in the western US broke down with more trough developing. This allowed for a downstream ridge to develop over the eastern US which is the westward displacement of the Bermuda high. It appears that as we enter the month of June this overall pattern will persist. This ridge will allow for continued flow of gulf moisture in the the central US with disturbances moving in from the western US being the focus of scattered showers and thunderstorms in most of the major growing areas of the central US.



Posted at 10:38AM CDT 05/27/15 by Mike Palmerino

Tuesday 05/26/15

NOAA: Mild Summer Forecast

OMAHA (DTN) -- El Nino conditions are in place in the Pacific Ocean, and the presence of that feature has forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting that summer weather will be generally mild across the primary U.S. crop regions.

An absence of high temperatures and at least normal precipitation are featured in the NOAA summer forecast. (Graphic courtesy of NOAA)

El Nino is an ocean and atmospheric feature in the Pacific equatorial region, characterized by above-normal ocean temperatures and a prevailing west-to-east jet stream in the subtropical latitudes.

"We are seeing a big area of the Pacific warming to above-normal temperatures from South America to the International Date Line," said forecaster David Unger of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. "Also, forecast models show a 90% chance of this warming to continue through fall. The strength is uncertain, but we are seeing the atmosphere reinforcing the temperature trend."

Both the NOAA June forecast and the June-July-August forecast -- which will encompass corn pollination and the majority of soybean blooming, pod-setting and pod-filling -- feature seasonal temperatures in most crop areas except for the Southern Plains, where the forecast trend is for below-normal values. Precipitation is expected to be above normal in the central and southern Plains, Deep South, Southeast and in the Rocky Mountains. Other major crop areas are predicted to have near-normal rainfall amounts.

The key feature of this summer forecast is the lack of widespread stress over the U.S. corn and soybean belts.

"I'm looking for generally 'non-extreme' in the way of temperature, maybe a little cooler than average," said Dennis Today, South Dakota State Climatologist. "Precipitation may not be very wet, but likely sufficient, even in the drier areas, (for crops) to do fairly well."

Todey is optimistic about yield prospects. "I think slightly above-trend yield is the way to describe the impact of El Nino," he said.

Grain market reaction to this forecast is generally expected to be bearish, reflective of the idea that the summer weather pattern will be favorable for big crops.

"With corn and soybean supplies already plentiful and soybean plantings at a new record high, another year of good crops that seems likely with this forecast will keep row-crop supplies abundant and keep potential buyers relaxed on the sidelines -- a bearish dynamic for corn and

soybean prices," said DTN analyst Todd Hultman.

Some meteorological agency forecast models call for El Nino conditions to strengthen to a similar category as the very strong El Nino of 1997-98. One feature of the current Pacific trend that brings a cautionary note, however, is that the current El Nino is out of season compared with other warm-water Pacific events, which usually develop and intensify during the November-December timeframe.

"This is the 'wrong' time of year for El Nino," said NOAA Central Region Climate Services Director Doug Kluck with an emphasis on the word 'wrong.' "The caveat is wait a few months. If there's a consistent sign of this strength, there may be something to that."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 8:14AM CDT 05/26/15 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 05/22/15

Drought Outlook Mostly Favorable

Following are highlights of the seasonal drought forecast from NOAA, which are favorable in terms of crop moisture for most areas except -- again -- the far West. -- Bryce

Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Precipitation deficits have been growing from northern Maryland through New England during the spring, with 60-day anomalies exceeding 5 inches from northern New Jersey across southeastern New England. Longer-term deficits are also becoming apparent, with year-to-date percent of normal precipitation values between 50 and 70 percent across much of the region. Unseasonably cold weather slowed snowmelt and evapotranspiration rates during March and April, which limited impacts; however, recent warmth has accelerated plant growth and soil moisture loss, and streamflow values have been steadily decreasing. Accordingly, moderate drought (D1) conditions developed across parts of eastern Pennsylvania, New York, and southeastern New England, while abnormal dryness (D0) was indicated for the remainder of the Northeast. Due to a fairly even distribution of generous climatological rainfall throughout the year, which mitigates the effects of subseaonal dry spells, prolonged drought conditions are more difficult to maintain across the Northeast than regions with long dry seasons such as California. Average soil moisture content usually decreases during the summer months across the Northeast, however, which makes the region vulnerable to the incipient conditions coming out of the spring months. CPC 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks show enhanced chances for above-median precipitation across the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. While this forecasted precipitation during the remainder of May would boost moisture locally, it is unlikely to be sufficient to overturn increasing moisture deficits on a large scale. Additionally, temperature forecasts for the remainder of May and June depict a climate signal favoring above-median temperatures, which would continue to promote high evapotranspiration rates. At the seasonal time scale, there is little signal for climate anomalies, as ENSO impacts are less apparent during the summer months over the Northeast than in winter months. Therefore, the CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks maintain equal chances for below, near, or above median precipitation. Some dynamical models, such as the CFS, do depict a dry signal across the Northeast during JJA, and the ECMWF forecast indicates abnormal dryness during the Weeks 3 and 4 period. Based primarily on current conditions, climatological precipitation, and the prospects for above normal temperatures early in the forecast period, additional drought development is favored for eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, eastern New York, and eastern Maine, with persistence favored for existing drought areas. There is reduced confidence for existing or newly developing drought conditions to persist through the entire summer period, however. Additionally, recent heavy thunderstorm activity across parts of far south-central Pennsylvania and north-central Maryland make short term drought development there less likely than areas further north and east, so no development was indicated.

Forecast confidence in the Northeast is low.

Drought Index values have been increasing across South Florida, where short term moderate drought conditions remain across primarily the Everglades. The rainy season begins during late May in southern Florida, which should begin to improve the dry Spring conditions. CPC 8-14 day outlooks maintain near normal precipitation for southern Florida, while the monthly and seasonal outlooks favor near to above median precipitation. Climate anomalies associated with ENSO conditions also favor enhanced precipitation across Florida. Based on both climatology and these outlooks, drought removal is anticipated for South Florida.

Forecast confidence in South Florida is high.

Thirty-day surpluses of 5-10 inches are common across the eastern two thirds of Texas and much of Oklahoma. Further north, heavy snowfall (1 to 2 feet) fell across parts of Nebraska and the Dakotas, easing drought conditions there as well. Spring precipitation events have also improved long term drought conditions across the Great Plains, with surpluses now observed on the 12 month time scale across Texas, Oklahoma, and western Kansas. Widespread deficits on the 3-year time scale are still present, however, and reservoirs have been slower to recover than soils and rivers. Climate Prediction Center (CPC) 8-14 day, monthly, and seasonal outlooks all indicate enhanced chances for above median precipitation across the central and southern Plains. Below median precipitation is favored across the far northern Plains during the 8-14 day period, with equal chances for below, near, or above median precipitation thereafter. The summer months are a relatively wet time of year across the northern Plains, which favors further drought reductions. Based on these outlooks, further improvements or removal of remaining drought areas are expected.

Forecast confidence in the Plains is moderate to high.

During the past 30 days, above average precipitation fell across much of Minnesota, while below average rainfall persisted across much of Wisconsin. The summer months are climatologically wet across the upper Midwest, particularly across Minnesota, which would favor drought reduction. Precipitation accumulations generally under 0.5 inches are forecast during the upcoming week, while the CPC 8-14 day outlooks favor below median precipitation. The monthly and seasonal outlooks indicate no anomalous climate signals during the summer. El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) precipitation composites are fairly noisy across the upper Midwest during the summer months. Based primarily on climatology, therefore, drought removal is anticipated across western and central Minnesota, where the percent of annual precipitation and positive soil moisture change values are the greatest. Drought persistence is slightly more favored across eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin, where soil moisture is more likely to decrease during the summer.

Forecast confidence in the upper Midwest is low to moderate.

Recent cool weather and above normal rainfall resulted in drought improvements across Colorado, eastern Utah, and southeastern Wyoming. In fact, SNOTEL snow water content (SWE) values across central Colorado are now above normal. In contrast, drier weather promoted expansion of abnormal dryness across much of Idaho, Montana, and western Wyoming, where snow water content values are considerably lower. The CPC 8-14 day outlook indicates enhanced chances of above median precipitation during Week-2 across the northern and central Rockies. The wet signal is persisted in the CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks as well. Based on these outlooks, drought improvement or removal is favored for much of the central and northern Rockies, including all of Colorado, eastern Utah, and eastern Idaho. Drought persistence is maintained across the remainder of the Intermountain West, where current SWE values are much lower and climatological precipitation is less.

Forecast confidence in the northern and central Rockies is moderate.

The Southwest Monsoon season presents difficulties for this outlook when drought is in place, since improvements under a convective regime tend to be spotty and difficult to pinpoint. CPC monthly and seasonal outlooks indicate enhanced chances for above median precipitation across New Mexico, and equal chances for below, near, or above median precipitation for Arizona. ENSO composites depict a statistically significant dry climate anomaly across Arizona and New Mexico during the summer months, corresponding to the early monsoon period. Gulf surges due to tropical cyclone activity over the eastern Pacific may mitigate this dry signal later in the monsoon season. Based on the ENSO composites and CPC outlooks, drought persistence is forecast for southeastern California and most of Arizona. Drought improvement or removal is forecast for New Mexico and far northeastern Arizona, although these improvements will be spotty in nature.

Forecast confidence in the Southwest Monsoon region is moderate.

The dry season is in full swing across the Western U.S., although a series of troughs have brought some moisture to the Cascades, northern Sierras, and Great Basin. SNOTEL SWE values remain extremely low across the West. The CPC 8-14 day outlook persists this wet pattern for the Great Basin region, while the monthly and seasonal outlooks both maintain equal chances for below, near, or above median precipitation across the West. While the short term rainfall may result in localized ephemeral drought relief, the summer climatology favors persistence. Since streams and reservoirs largely rely on snowmelt for maintenance during the dry season, further drought degradations are also likely throughout the western states. Additional drought expansion is likely across the Pacific Northwest.

Forecast confidence in the West is high.

Posted at 2:16PM CDT 05/22/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (1)
beautiful weather for salmon fishing in southeast Alaska .raining in Idaho still 3 pivots of corn left to plant
Posted by Jerome Fitzgerald at 4:37PM CDT 05/25/15

Thursday 05/21/15

Dry for Some, Wetter for Others in Prairies

Crops continue to be sown at break-neck speed across many areas of the Prairies with Manitoba reporting more than 70% of seeding complete as of May 19. Seeding has surpassed the 50% completion mark across much of Saskatchewan and Alberta based on reports from last week. Seeding progress to date on the whole is the earliest in about a decade for most of the Prairies.

(Graphic courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Weather has been on the side of those sowing seeds so far this spring, but some areas are reporting some problems. Across portions of Alberta and Saskatchewan, producers are delaying seeding canola until seedbed moisture levels improve. A similar story is being told by farmers across southwest Saskatchewan where topsoil moisture has been on the decline during the past few weeks.

Since April 1, we have seen less than 40% of the normal precipitation across east-central Alberta and western Saskatchewan, while most of the remainder of Alberta and Saskatchewan have been drier than normal, but by a lesser extent. Southern Manitoba has seen a rebound in the precipitation department and after a dry start now has excess moisture for most of the crop land.

Very chilly weather with widespread nighttime freezes across most of the region during the weekend into early this week was even accompanied by strong winds and snow for Manitoba. While assessment is still being done as to any damage to some of the earliest emerging crops the early feeling is that most crops were not yet emerged enough to suffer major damage.

Hopefully the cold weather and freeze threats are mostly behind us, but we remain concerned about the potential for drier-than-normal conditions and expanding areas of drying soil conditions during the upcoming weeks. El Nino is quite clearly becoming more of a factor as it strengthens across the equatorial Pacific.

Some model projections predict a major El Nino by this fall. Typically across Western Canada we see warmer and drier-than-average conditions during the crop season during an El Nino and some of these aspects have already been showing their face for some this spring.

The current version of the weather pattern features a split flow jet stream pattern with Canada stuck with a western ridge favoring dry weather while most of the moisture remains tied up across the U.S. Plains induced from a persistent Southwest U.S. trough. It is possible that as we transition into summer that the whole jet stream pattern shifts northward enough to allow for some increased moisture for the Prairies, but widespread rains seem less than likely at this point.

The weather pattern during the next week or so will favor seeding for most unless dry topsoil is a problem as it is across some parts of the west. Little or no rain is expected for most areas and increasing temperatures combined with plenty of sun each day should produce more drying topsoils.

Manitoba will be in the best shape during the coming few weeks with plenty of recent precipitation to help emerging crops, but further west dry weather and drying topsoil moisture could have increasing impact on emerging crops and in some cases remaining seeding of some crops.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:31AM CDT 05/21/15 by Doug Webster

Monday 05/18/15

Northern Highs Are Still Around

Weather headlines the past couple weeks have been dominated by El Nino development in the Pacific Ocean. However, a feature which claimed center stage in much of the past two growing season--blocking high pressure in the northern latitudes--is still on the scene. And, that feature kicked in the door for attention during the past week.

The "northern block" is comprised of two high pressure centers--one on the west coast of Canada, and the second near Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean. The influence of these two highs has affected the U.S. crop area weather pattern in these ways:

1) The western Canada high forces storm systems out of the North Pacific farther south. Those low-pressure systems cannot move eastward into the interior of Canada, so they slide south along the edge of the western Canada high.

2) The western Canada high also allows for a warmer trend in the Canadian Rockies and the western Canadian Prairies.

3) The Greenland high prevents colder air from the far northern latitudes--yes, there is still some colder air out there--from migrating eastward and forces that cold southward through the eastern Prairies and into the northern U.S. And that cold air is--as everyone in the northern Plains knows--is mighty cold.

The colder air moving southward is one thing. But, what's another is a new wrinkle for this season in the form of El Nino-fueled southern-branch jet streams. That southern-branch jet, with its own energy (and moisture) has helped to kick in some very heavy rains in the southern Plains and western Corn Belt--with even enough moisture making its way north to bring heavy rains (and snow) to the northern Plains and the northwestern Corn Belt last week.

So yes--while we observe El Nino's influence--we also dare not disregard the continued impact of the blocking highs in the north. Combined, they have led to a volatile situation in the past couple weeks.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:01PM CDT 05/18/15 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 05/15/15

El Nino Signals Rival 1997

A farmer in Australia asked if I had a reference point for the intensifying El Nino of 2015. His question was: "Is this mirroring any other El Nino formations? Ie, is there any El Nino years similar?" I put this question to Dr. Dennis Todey, South Dakota state climatologist. I figured that such a question must have come up in the scientific discussion this week.

Australia Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values show a solid trend toward negative readings -- a sign of El Nino strengthening. (DTN graphic by Nick Scalise)

It turns out that I was correct. Dr. Todey said that there indeed are some other years when conditions in the Pacific acted like they are in 2015.

"I would not say (this year is) its own creature completely. We found maybe a half dozen that strengthened in the spring. That was where we compared to. 2004 was one year, 2002 another," Todey said in an e-mail exchange.

"There were (a)few that developed now and stayed into next winter. That seems like a good possibility now. Someone noted that the last time all 4 Nino regions were greater than +1 (warmer than 1 degree Celsius above normal)was going into the big event in November 1997-98. That is where we are now, but at the odd time of year." (bolded phrase is mine--BA)

"There was some discussion mid-week...about what this means across the country.It is an odd formation with El Nino finally being realized in the spring. There were several attempts at determining composites from analog years.The years we saw did not provide nice analogs--purely based on (a) developing El Nino during spring.

The bit of wild-card in this is how does the very warm water in the eastern Pacific interact and change patterns."

I didn't ask this question specifically, but Dr. Todey addressed it anyway--the final corn yield potential with the El Nino event intensifying as it is now.

"There were some hints at what I found with usual El Nino years with cooler wetter late in the growing season in the Corn Belt," he said. "Barring any of this I am falling back on my El Nino prediction for the growing season. Generally non-extreme in the way of temperature, maybe a little cooler than average. Precipitation may not be very wet, but likely sufficient – even in the drier areas to do fairly well. I don’t think I would differ from my slightly above trend yield prediction..."


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 1:48PM CDT 05/15/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
I'm kidding here but couldn't ya let the bull run a few yards before ya put this out!
Posted by Stan Schoen at 5:47PM CDT 05/15/15
well I am not kidding to bold of a prediction makes me question who you work for or favor. Seems it could get to wet its a fifty fifty chance either way tell it like it is not what buyers want to hear.No way does anyone know it all like is claimed by traders only hear and see what they want.Farmers only ones deal with reality.
Posted by andrew mohlman at 7:17AM CDT 05/18/15

Thursday 05/14/15

Early Emerged Crops in Prairies May be Threatened by Cold

The 2015 crop season has gotten off to the earliest start since 2006 for many areas with even some portions of Alberta seeing the best start in more than a decade. The early exit of snow and favorable weather conditions have allowed seeding to race forward during the past two weeks with Manitoba already reaching 55% completion as of May 11.

The departure from normal (in millimeters) across the Prairies during the past 30 days shows soil moisture conditions are mostly good. (Graphic courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Saskatchewan and Alberta are also reporting crop seeding progress percentages far ahead of the five- and 10-year averages. Saskatchewan had 34% of the crop seeded as of May 11, up from the five-year average of 9% and 10-year average of 17%. Favorable weather and ground conditions have helped farmers to work with few delays from late April onward.

Soil moisture conditions are in good shape for most areas with ratings of good to excellent ranging from 68 to 74% of the landscape, while areas that are too wet range from 16 to 31%. Drier conditions continue to be noted across some of southern Manitoba where some rain is likely to fall during the next few days. Some of the dry reports across Saskatchewan and Alberta are confined to the topmost layer where wind and dry air have depleted moisture.

While all seems good for most at this time, we do see some potential problems both in the short and longer term. In the short term, we are seeing a rekindling of a weather pattern that frequented North America from February into April. A Western Canada ridge and developing polar vortex across eastern Hudson Bay and northern Quebec during the next week will bring some colder weather back across the Prairies.

Below- and possibly well-below-normal temperatures may arrive during the weekend bringing a high threat of hard frost and freeze to many areas. This cold could damage any early emerged crops that are vulnerable to cold. Temperatures as low as 20 to 28 Fahrenheit (minus 7 to minus 2 Celsius) are being forecast by some of the model forecasts early Sunday across most of the Prairies. Monday morning will again be quite cold, but probably up a couple of degrees.

The overall weather pattern appears to be making a return to the late-winter pattern when cold air was pretty easy to come by and precipitation was mostly lacking. After a stretch of great weather to start the crop season early, we may be seeing a few bumps in the road before we get to summer.

In the longer term, we are still concerned that the weather pattern is one that produces less rainfall than we would like. Soil moisture conditions are mostly good now, but a dry pattern during the next few weeks could deplete topsoil moisture for many areas during the critical development phase.

The 30-day precipitation departure from normal shows that the majority of the Prairies have seen from 10 to 30 millimeters less precipitation than normal from April 11 through May 10. Only central Saskatchewan, northwestern Alberta and the southeast corner of Manitoba crop regions have seen excess precipitation.

This weekend's cold shot and the longer term lack of precipitation have potential to derail what initially looks like a great crop season.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:52AM CDT 05/14/15 by Doug Webster

Wednesday 05/13/15

Australia Declares El Nino

The Australia Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is now on the El Nino bandwagon. The BOM made that announcement this week. Here is part of the BOM bulletin:

The Pacific Ocean analysis meter from the Australia Bureau of Meteorology has moved from an El Nino watch to a full-fledged El Nino. (BOM graphic by Nick Scalise)

"The tropical Pacific is in the early stages of El Nino. Based upon model outlooks and current observations, the Bureau's ENSO Tracker has been raised to El Nino status.

El Nino--Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators have shown a steady trend towards El Nino levels since the start of the year. Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have exceeded El Nino thresholds for the past month, supported by warmer-than-average waters below the surface. Trade winds have remained consistently weaker than average since the start of the year, cloudiness at the (International) Date Line has increased and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has remained negative for several months. These indicators suggest the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere have started to couple and reinforce each other, indicating El Nino is likely to persist in the coming months.

International climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate that tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures are likely to remain above El Nino thresholds through the coming southern winter and at least into spring."

An article on the Sydney, Australia Morning Herald newspaper reviewed the BOM announcement, and added some additional detail in an article by Herald environment editor Peter Hannam:

"A "substantial" El Nino event has begun, raising the likelihood of worsening drought over inland Australia and higher daytime temperatures, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

'This will be quite a substantial event,' said David Jones, head of climate monitoring at the bureau. 'It's not a weak one or a near miss' as in 2014, he said. 'This event is perhaps running ahead of where the models had predicted.'...

Abnormally warm sea-surface temperatures have been observed in all five regions of the equatorial Pacific monitored by meteorologists. While the threshold level is 0.8 degrees, all regions were more than one degree above normal -- the first time all weekly values have exceeded such a mark since February 1998, the bureau said.

The 'super El Nino' event of 1997-98 resulted in a spike in global temperatures that set a record that has only been marginally topped in 2005, 2010 and 2014. Climate specialists say El Ninos add 0.1-0.2 degrees to global temperatures, making it likely that 2015 and 2016 may challenge the new high set only last year.

Another criterion for an El Nino is that the normal east-to-west trade winds are weaker than average. In fact, the winds were reversed, blowing eastwards for five days to May 10, in a sign that the atmosphere has 'coupled' with the changes in ocean temperatures, reinforcing them.

A third criterion is that the Southern Oscillation Index--a gauge of pressure differences between Darwin and Tahiti--has persistent readings of at least minus-7. The latest bureau update, shows the SOI dropped to almost minus-10 in the past two weeks.

The final criterion, also reached, is that a majority of the eight major climate models from around the world used by the bureau show continued anomalous warmth in the equatorial Pacific.

In fact, all eight of the international models indicate the central Pacific will warm further in coming months and may be prolonged, the bureau said."

The full announcement from the Australia BOM is is at this link:…

The full article from the Sydney Morning Herald is available here:…


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:14PM CDT 05/13/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
What does this mean for us here in minnesota?
Posted by SEAN GROOS at 4:21AM CDT 05/14/15
Quite favorable for crops. In the last 3 El Nino summers--2002, 2004 and 2009--Minnesota corn yields and production were both above the previous year. 2002--157 bu/A, 27 bu/A more than 2001 with production at 1.05 Billion bushels versus 806 Million in 2001. 2004--159 bu/A vs 146 in 2003 with production of 1.12 Bil bu vs 971 Million in 2003. 2009--175 bu/A vs 164 in 2008 with production of 1.25 Bil bu vs 1.28 Bil in 2008.
Posted by Bryce Anderson at 10:16AM CDT 05/14/15

Monday 05/11/15

Australia SOI Tilts Toward El Nino

The barometric pressure component of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) feature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has been a reluctant participant in El Nino formation so far this year. This part of the puzzle has emained in a neutral category despite the ocean temperatures reaching above-normal levels from South America all the way west to the International Date Line.

However, that aspect may be changing. The SOI calculation done by the Australia Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Monday May 11, 2015 showed a 30-day average of -8.87, which placed the 30-day average into El Nino territory at -8 or below. The 90-day SOI average Monday May 11 was -6.55--still in a neutral position but just 1.5 index points away from the -8 figure. The BOM daily SOI calculation Monday May 11 was a robust -40.43. This strongly-negative daily index is part of a string of such sharply-negative totals. In the past five days, we have seen these daily index values: Thursday May 7 -17.80; Friday May 8 -32.30; Saturday May 9 -46.90; Sunday May 10 -44.10; and then the Monday -40.43 daily index.

This trend--and particularly the trend to not just El Nino-type values but strong El Nino-type values--makes a broad suggestion that El Nino is indeed setting in in the Pacific. We are seeing more weather features pointing to this development as well. Rain has developed in the southern Plains this season, with the heaviest totals in five years in some locales. The Midwest is getting periodic doses of storms and precipitation. And, upper air forecast maps for next week show a strong southern-branch jet stream with the potential for more precipitation. Weather features plus ocean indicators, again, strongly hint that El Nino is around.

The Far West drought may get some easing as well with this trend. The six to ten-day forecast through late next week, Thursday May 21, has above-normal precipitation for all areas of California except for the Desert Southwest. Other dry areas such as the Great Basin and interior Pacific Northwest may also take in this type of moisture.

Back to the subject at hand--the Pacific SOI is showing strong El Nino tendencies. And that generally bodes well for U.S. crop production.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Posted at 2:53PM CDT 05/11/15 by Bryce Anderson

Friday 05/08/15

Too Much, Enough, or Too Little?

The past week was indeed one of precipitation extremes across the U.S. Storm and situation reports bear that out. At the end of the week, there were areas which had over-the-top excessive rainfall, the more-or-less right amount to heal some dryness, or measurements which serve to reinforce a long-term calamity.

"Flooding rains in southern Nebraska and northern Kansas illustrate extreme precipitation in central U.S. storms the week of May 3-9." (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise)

First, the "excessives". As the illustration for this entry shows, a swath of outsize rain amounts ran from southeastern Nebraska to north-central Kansas in a heavy rain outbreak Wednesday, May 6. Rainfall totals topped 11 inches. Flooding was widespread in this area. Crop loss is possible, of course, with this kind of heavy rain, and there was significant damage to homes and businesses. The heavy rain was called a "one in a thousand years" event in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Central Oklahoma also was the scene of very heavy rain along with tornado damage. Tornado development is of course not a rare occurrence in the southern Plains. But the rainfall was unprecedented. Oklahoma City took in more than seven inches of rain in one day on Wednesday, May 6, with some area communities totaling more than eight inches. For the first time ever, Oklahoma City had a flash flood emergency issued.

These two headline features illustrate--again--one of the key points regarding climate change effects that scientists have noted in their research, which is that rainfall in the central U.S. is likely to more and more show up heavy amounts at one time. This facet, over a period of years, is unfavorable for soil moisture supplies, because such heavy precipitation either runs off or evaporates.

Not all the rainfall was too much of a good thing. Take Lubbock, Texas for example. On Monday and Tuesday, May 4 and 5, Lubbock had rainfall totaling 4.5 inches. For the year through Thursday, May 7, Lubbock has had 8.6 inches of precipitation, more than four inches above normal, and far more than the .90 inches for the year at this same time in 2014. Moisture fortunes have indeed improved in the southern Texas Panhandle.

More detail on rainfall totals is here:…

Now to the ongoing calamity--more dryness in the western U.S. This week's fifth 2015 snowpack forecast for the western U.S. issued by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) said that west-wide snowpack has mostly melted. NRCS hydrologist David Garen said that "Across most of the West, snowpack isn't just low--it's gone. With some exceptions, this year's snowmelt streamflow has already occurred." For much of the western U.S., the snowpack at many stations is at or near the lowest on record. Months of unusually warm temperatures hindered snowpack growth and accelerated its melt. The only areas with some snowpack still left are northern Colorado, western Montana and southern Wyoming.

A detailed look at the NRCS snowpack (or lack of) forecast is here:…


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 3:27PM CDT 05/08/15 by Bryce Anderson

Thursday 05/07/15

Favorable Weather for Prairie Seeding

Weather has been on the side of the farmer so far this spring in Western Canada. There's been mild weather on average, an early exit of snow cover allowing soils to warm enough for seeding to start early, and some periods of rain and snow just prior to seeding to moisten up some of the drier fields.

There has been variability of precipitation versus normal during the past 30 days across the Prairies. (Graphic courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

There are also a few spots reporting conditions too wet, but that is the minority of situations.

Initial reports from the Canadian Prairies are good ones for farmers for the most part; seeding began earlier than normal and a weather scenario so far this spring helps the situation. A couple of wet weather systems late in April and early in May have dampened some of the areas that were on the dry side; this created favorable soil moisture conditions for the majority of the region.

Saskatchewan is reporting 76% of the crop land with adequate soil moisture and only 4% short. Across Manitoba, conditions are drier but recent rains have helped some of the dry fields, while a few localized spots continue to report excess moisture. The majority of Manitoba's fields need a little more rain to help out with emergence and growth as we move forward into late spring.

The accompanying chart shows the variability of precipitation versus normal during the past 30 days across the Prairies. Less-than-average precipitation has occurred west and east with Saskatchewan seeing a little too much.

A late-season snowfall of up to 20 centimeters and more across the Peace River area of Alberta earlier this week should melt rather quickly as a milder, drier weather pattern takes hold for western areas of the Prairies. The rest of the Prairies should see rather chilly weather into early next week, which should not yet be a problem since emergence is pretty much non-existent.

Overall, we see a rather favorable weather forecast for seeding across Western Canada during the next one to two weeks with a good amount of sunny, dry weather expected. The upper air weather pattern is one that should feature a ridge through Western Canada keeping storms at bay across the central U.S. Chilly weather across the central and eastern Prairies in the short term should moderate to near to above normal by the middle of next week.

In the short term, this is a good scenario for seeding and fieldwork operations. If this weather pattern persists into the longer term, then we may have to deal with drying soil conditions during the late spring or early summer as crops emerge and develop. While the potential of drier weather is still speculative at this point, it is something to keep an eye on as we move forward.

For now, the early arrival of spring and rather favorable seeding conditions should allow for a much earlier start to the growing season across the Prairies than we have seen in a few years.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:44AM CDT 05/07/15 by Doug Webster

Monday 05/04/15

2015 Versus 2010

We've seen and heard of a rapid pace of corn and soybean planting in the northwestern Corn Belt this season. Many producers are at least finished with their corn planting and are now onto soybeans, or in some cases already finished with both the primary row crops, with the planters parked for the season. This is not quite the dramatic "planting in March" scenario that we had during the flash drought year of 2012, but it is very similar to the 2010 crop year. That year is one of the first -- if not the very first -- year when the terrific pace of planting due to both big machinery and RTK technology in tractors combined for more than 30 percent of the intended U.S. corn acreage to be planted in just one week's time.

El Nino temperatures are underway in the Pacific Ocean. Five years ago in 2010, the Pacific temperatures moved into a La Nina phase instead. (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise)

But, there's another facet of the 2010 crop year that has also been discussed in and around the market -- and that is, how the 2010 weather pattern evolved. The start of the year was fine and dandy, but the end of the year was not. The final USDA 2010 corn production figure of 12.4 billion bushels was five percent below 2009, but was a big drop below the first official estimate in August of 2010, at 13.4 billion bushels. And, U.S. corn yield in 2010's final rendition was 152.8 bushels per acre, 11.9 bu/A below 2009, and 12.2 bu/A less than the first official estimate in August.

What happened to knock the corn crop in the latter part of the season? You can assign credit -- or blame -- to the fact that, during the summer of 2010, the Pacific Ocean moved from a neutral to weak El Nino to the onset of a La Nina (cold equator region) pattern that lasted in some phase through the first quarter of 2012.

Now, what about this season? Does the rapid pace of planting in the northwestern Corn Belt this year suggest that we are on the verge of having another 2010-type season show itself? The answer, at least from the ocean condition angle, is "no."

As the graphic illustration with this posting shows, the entire Pacific equatorial region, from South America to the International Date Line, has sea surface temperatures of at least 1 degree Celsius above normal. And, in the case of the eastern Pacific, data collected by my colleague Mike Palmerino show the eastern Pacific temperatures at +1.3 deg C versus normal for the month of April 2015. That figure was 0.4 deg C warmer than the March eastern Pacific reading of +0.9. The April 2015 reading was also more than a half-degree Celsius warmer than April 2010's figure of +0.7 deg C.

So, El Nino is here and is likely to stay in effect through the rest of the 2015 crop season. And, as we have discussed several times recently, this is a promising pattern for crop production, as compared with the issues brought on by La Nina five years ago.


Twitter @BAndersonDTN


Posted at 10:43AM CDT 05/04/15 by Bryce Anderson

Wednesday 04/29/15

Weather Forecast Favors Upcoming Seeding

As winter turned to spring and the snow cover across the Prairies melted away several weeks earlier than the past two seasons we had some concern that dry soil moisture conditions could develop during the spring, possibly hampering seeding. Recent beneficial showers and snow have mostly put to rest for now the low soil moisture potential for most areas.

The overall weather pattern is appearing to be one quite favorable for the soon to start field work and seeding season across western Canada. Unlike the snow and significant cold of the past two springs we are seeing a more gentle weather pattern this year with of late some increase in precipitation to help keep soil conditions favorably moist.

The weekend rain and snow brought some areas as much as 25 mm (1 inch) melted. With April nearly in the books we are finding that parts of southern Alberta have received as much as 115 percent of normal precipitation for the month while most other areas from Saskatchewan to Manitoba are seeing monthly precipitation in the 60 to 90 percent of normal range. Actual monthly totals range from 0.50 to 1.50 inch (13-38 mm) across most of Alberta and Saskatchewan with Manitoba totals mostly in the 0.25 to 0.75 inch (6-19 mm) area.

With a few more splashes of showers and rain expected as we change the calendar from April to May along with a temperature pattern in keeping with the time of year we can be pretty optimistic for a good start to the seeding season during the next few weeks.

While it appears that on the whole a favorable weather pattern is evolving for the start of the new crop season there are still some spots with drier than normal conditions than we would like to see. Parts of Manitoba could still use some rain but there may also be some coming during the next week. There are also a few small areas that are too wet across northern Alberta but most areas are in a much more favorable situation for seeding than we saw during the past 2 years.

The May weather outlook continues to show a pretty favorable picture for western Canada. Temperatures are expected to average pretty close to normal, but as it typical some see-saw temperatures can be expected until the cold across northern Canada finally gives up.

Rainfall prospects for next month show seasonable amounts expected. The weather pattern that has taken hold during the past week or two is one featuring a west to east progression of weather systems. There has been considerable blocking across eastern Canada during the last half of April but its' effects have not reached the Prairies.

The progression of weather systems from west to east across the Prairies is a good one since it brings an opportunity for showers every few days keeping soils moist enough for germination and in between these systems sunshine should help warm soils. This is not a pattern that should produce excess cold, wetness, or heat.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:17AM CDT 04/29/15 by Doug Webster
Comments (1)
great halilujia best to start while god smiles on us
Posted by Jerome Fitzgerald at 5:31PM CDT 04/30/15

Friday 04/24/15

April Chills And Planting

The recent run of chilly temperatures in much of the country makes the following comments on the impact of climate change for Nebraska agriculture by Nebraska state climatologist Al Dutcher worth a read. The message here is that climate change effects on conditions for springtime are not equal--and an out-of-balance relationship between air temperature and soil temperature mean that early planting is not a guarantee. These comments are from a report by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.--Bryce


"Research conducted by the High Plains Regional Climate Center has found that the date when 4-inch soil temperatures under bare soil are occurring is nearly two weeks earlier than in the early 1980s. What little moisture might be gained during the winter months in a warming environment would be lost to increased evapotranspiration from vegetation that breaks dormancy earlier in the year.

By the year 2100, the National Climate Assessment report indicates that the frost-free season will increase by 30 to 40 days for Nebraska. A shift to earlier planting dates will only be effective if the spread of the distribution curve remains consistent. Vulnerability to freeze damage would increase if the mean freeze date shifts earlier into the year, but the distribution does not shift by an equal proportion. This is a critical issue for producers, as the 2012, 2013, and 2014 growing seasons produced hard freeze conditions during the first half of May, even as favorable soil temperatures are occurring two weeks earlier when compared to the early 1980s.

If precipitation amounts remain steady or decrease by the year 2100, evapotranspiration demand will result in less moisture available to growing crops during their critical reproductive periods that occur in May (wheat), July (corn), and August (sorghum, soybean). During 2012, native vegetation broke dormancy a month earlier than normal and soil moisture reserves were depleted across most of the U.S. Corn Belt well before the critical pollination period was reached.

There is a general thought that as the climate warms, crop planting dates can be shifted earlier in the year, thus decreasing the likelihood that plants will come into reproduction during the statistical peak of the summer heat. The drought of 2012 proved this theory invalid when precipitation was insufficient to keep plants out of perpetual water stress conditions."

A final note--while the details in these comments were focused on Nebraska, the disparity between soil warming patterns and air temperature patterns is likely in effect in other states across the central U.S.--BA


Posted at 2:46PM CDT 04/24/15 by Bryce Anderson
Comments (2)
My experience in South central Minnesota, is that in fall we have been warmer in September and October with fewer nights below freezing, but we still have a killing frost near the usual date. This hasn't worked out for my trials of 110 day corn and 2.5 maturity soybeans.
Posted by Bill Rynda at 8:44AM CDT 04/25/15
Seems strange. Some dates the record lows or highs are a hundred years ago. Then again, some record dates are somewhat in between or recent. In the 70's, we once had corn freeze of in early June. Other times, it froze in early Sept. and once in August. Like the markets, it seems climate changes on a daily basis to various extremes.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 8:30PM CDT 04/28/15

Thursday 04/23/15

Differing Soil Moisture Conditions for Western Canada

Some areas of the Prairies have seen drier-than-normal conditions during winter which have persisted into spring. Most notably, southern Manitoba has been dry and a few spots near the U.S. border recorded a record dry winter. Winter is being defined as from Nov. 1 through March 31.

(Graphic courtesy of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Dryness was also noted across parts of eastern and southern Saskatchewan and in a spotty nature across southern Alberta. Not everyone was dry -- parts of central Saskatchewan and north-central Alberta were too wet during the winter season.

The winter precipitation pattern has undergone some changes with respect to precipitation as we have moved into March and April, but not for everyone. A chart from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada shows from mid-March through the first week of April that dryness continued for Manitoba, as well as for south-central Alberta. Changes have taken place across central Saskatchewan where drier conditions are welcome after the winter wetness. Wet weather remains a problem for north-central Alberta, but is probably welcome for southernmost Saskatchewan where the winter was drier.

While the overall weather pattern has been mostly drier than normal for most of the Prairies during the past month or longer, this is not the case for everyone. Precipitation has been less than average for most areas during the two weeks following the 30-day precipitation departure chart, but a few spots of wetness have continued, mostly for north-central Alberta.

It will be early May before we get some good soil moisture data for the Prairies, but based on the winter and early spring precipitation data, we would think Manitoba will start out with drier-than-average conditions. However, many areas from Saskatchewan to Alberta may be in reasonably good shape. Again, there are a few spots even across the west that are either too wet or too dry but cover a fairly low percentage of the entire region.

The upcoming weather pattern appears to be reasonable with respect to temperatures and rainfall for the region as we move from late April to early May. There will be at least a couple of opportunities to see some light-to-moderate rain activity across the region into the middle of next week. Beyond that, into early May, there are signs that the main low pressure track may be across either the southern Prairies or the northern border area of the United States.

Temperatures have been fairly close to normal so far during April for most areas although there has been quite a bit of variability from day to day. The upcoming pattern is not expected to produce major extremes, but we will likely continue to see the typical spring variability.

Spring fieldwork should be able to take place in most areas with the aerial coverage of too wet not very large. We should not get bogged down in any long-term wet patterns to delay or stop farmers from getting to work in the fields during the next couple of weeks.

The most recent May outlook from the U.S. monthly model output indicates wetter and cooler weather may begin to take hold across the southern Prairies, while northern areas are milder and a little drier than normal. Compared to the last two springs, the early preview for early fieldwork and seeding is to be earlier and with mostly better conditions for most areas, but not all.

Doug Webster can be reached at


Posted at 10:48AM CDT 04/23/15 by Doug Webster
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Recent Blog Posts
  • Crop report and weather highlights.
  • NOAA: Mild Summer Forecast
  • Drought Outlook Mostly Favorable
  • Dry for Some, Wetter for Others in Prairies
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  • Early Emerged Crops in Prairies May be Threatened by Cold
  • Australia Declares El Nino
  • Australia SOI Tilts Toward El Nino
  • Too Much, Enough, or Too Little?
  • Favorable Weather for Prairie Seeding
  • 2015 Versus 2010
  • Weather Forecast Favors Upcoming Seeding
  • April Chills And Planting
  • Differing Soil Moisture Conditions for Western Canada
  • U.S. Corn Yields Projected Above Trend Line With El Nino Onset
  • El Nino And Above-Trend Yields
  • Rainfall Continues to be Light for the Prairies
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