Ag Weather Forum

Pacific Temperatures Decline

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Spring El Nino conditions suggest a wet and delayed field-work season this spring in the eastern Midwest and Delta. (Florida State graphic by Nick Scalise)

Our latest calculation of the sea surface temperature departure in the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean for the first half of February stands at 1.8 degrees Celsius above normal. This is significantly down from the 2.9 degrees C above normal observed during the month of January.

The main question as we head into the 2016 growing season will be: How fast do the sea surface temperatures continue to cool? This could have a significant impact on the weather patterns in the central U.S.

A report from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology states that there have been 26 El Nino events since 1900. Around 50 percent of these have been followed by a neutral year, 40 percent by La Nina and 10 percent remained in El Nino conditions. Of greatest concern would be a rapid shift to La Nina, as that would likely lead to the greatest chance of drought in parts of the central U.S.

Heading into the month of March, the weather pattern seems to be shaping up as a season that will tend to follow spring El Nino conditions. This would imply wetter-than-normal conditions from east Texas and the southeast Plains eastward across the Delta and Southeast states and northward across the southern and eastern Midwest. This would imply fieldwork and planting delays in these areas, as soils are already mostly saturated due to heavy precipitation this winter.

We will be watching how far to the west this precipitation can extend into the Southern Plains. The inability to produce some significant precipitation in the Southern Plains winter wheat belt during March may be of concern if sea surface temperatures continue to fall.

Mike Palmerino



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2/3/2016 | 7:28 PM CST
I remember those two previous weather events quite well The 83 event along with the PIK program and a flash drought while the 98 event with high carryovers, LDP's and some Asian flu (Japan?) two very different outcomes that set the tone in Ag for several years. My opinion that this year will have influences for the next few years as well. At present we high stocks to use , a debacle in the oil/ethanol arena and where RFS will be at in 5 years. If the grind in ethanol slows down 5 to 6% because of profitability we had better do the math, USDA has penciled in a 5.2 billion bushels use of corn for ethanol thus adding those bushels to our carry out. Here is the problem we have weak profitability in ethanol with lots of new bins, and bags full of corn waiting for some kind of price spike yes we need at least a threat of a heat streak but not too long otherwise our favorite new customer will have indigestion on corn that is too expensive to the price of oil. I will anxiously be looking forward to your comments on any clues that may have been learned from watching the last 2 El Nino's to help in decision making out here in the corn belt, there is a lot riding on weather between now and the end of August