South America Calling

No Change in La Nina Drought Grip

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Stubborn cooling in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean remains, with the resultant La Nina impact still noted. (NOAA/NESDIS graphic)

Drought continues in central Argentina and in the Southern Plains of the U.S. Pacific Ocean La Nina temperature patterns remain very evident in their influence on drought this early spring in both the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere.

Crop production continues to decline for both corn and soybeans in central Argentina, but more so for soybeans as they are more vulnerable to dryness at this time of the year. Many private and public estimates for the Argentina 2018 soybean crop are in the 40 million to 45 million metric ton range. This estimate is almost a full one-third less than projections back in early January.

It is certainly possible that we will finish off the main filling stage of development during the next couple of weeks with no major drought relief. The La Nina pattern is weaker than earlier this year, but we have yet to see this translate into a return to more normal weather in central Argentina.

Conversely, La Nina conditions have also allowed for an extension of the rainy season in central Brazil. This has disrupted the soybean harvest, but has led to favorable soil moisture for planting and developing second crop corn (safrinha). Corn planting in Mato Grosso is running 8 percentage points behind last year, but is only 2 percentage points behind average as of March 3. There is no end to the rainy season in sight at this time.

Looking at the conditions in the U.S. as early spring sets in in the Northern Hemisphere, conditions remain very dry in the Southern Plains winter wheat areas -- as with Argentina, due to La Nina. Only 6% to 13% of the crop is rated in good to excellent condition in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. There is no change to this dry weather pattern in sight as disturbances continue to move too fast to allow for Gulf of Mexico moisture to flow back to the west into the southwestern Plains.

Meanwhile, the southern and eastern Midwest, along with the Delta states, are wet with no end in sight. Disruptions and delays to fieldwork can be expected.

Michael Palmerino can be reached at



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