Summer 2019--Rolling Sevens

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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Image by Brent Warren

In the ranking of numbers, it’s hard to top the number seven for either perfection or luck. Yes, numbers like three and five have their positive associations; but number seven pretty well takes the cake for association with perfection or luck.

The most well-known creation story in the Bible relates the creation of the earth in seven days (including a day of rest). But, in nature, there are also these groups of seven: seven continents; seven oceans; seven colors in the rainbow; seven notes in the musical scale; seven layers of skin; seven subcycles in an ocean wave; and seven vertebrae in your neck.

This list could go on for quite a while, including many additional cultural references and signposts. The point is, the number seven is pretty much at the top rung in the “perfection” or “completeness” category. And, of course, we know how anyone rolling the dice wants to hit the lucky number seven.

Summer 2019 appears to be setting up crops for a spin at the number seven as well--in this case, the seventh straight year of trend line or above-trend-line yields. Ever since the hot and dry season of 2012, major U.S. crop yields have hit trend line or above-trend line numbers. That string includes several years of tough, challenging, wet planting seasons. The years 2013, 2015 and 2018 were wet; and we can add 2019 to that rundown, as well. After all, this season follows a winter that turned out to be cold, ended with bomb cyclone-related flooding and was, in turn, succeeded by a spring season that limited early-planting opportunities.

A key part of the big picture for summer 2019 is that the equatorial Pacific Ocean is predicted to maintain a weak El Niño sea surface temperatures and barometric pressure pattern through most of the season. When El Niño is going on, its main impact on the summer weather pattern over North America is to keep the prevailing winds active in their traversing of the continent. When that more-active pattern is in effect, the ability of hot and oppressive standing high pressure to form over the Midwest is curtailed.

Also, the long-standing increase in row-crop coverage over the central U.S. acts as both a source of humidity for potential nighttime thunderstorm formation and a thermostat to limit the buildup of heat. The influence of this vegetative cover is also likely to display its importance for the primary U.S. crop areas again in 2019, just as it has in the recent past.

Following is a look at the summer forecast by region.


Temperatures near normal, and precipitation near to above normal. Stressful heat does not appear to be in store. In addition, periodic rainfall is projected to benefit crops. The Ohio Valley area will bear watching, because this sector has a drier indication.


Temperatures near to above normal, and precipitation below normal. Soil-moisture reserves will be needed during drier periods. This drier tendency may also extend northward into the southern fringe of the Midwest.


Temperatures near to above normal, and precipitation below normal. As with the Delta, the drier and warmer signal implies possible stress during the midsummer time frame. Florida is the exception, with prospects for seasonal temperatures and above-normal precipitation.


Temperatures have a near-normal indication, with precipitation mixed; near to above normal in the Mid-Atlantic region, and below normal in the Northeast. With the drier indication in the Northeast, any move toward warmer conditions could reinforce itself quickly.


Temperatures have a near- to below-normal indication, with precipitation near to above normal. The summer forecast does not indicate a revisiting of the 2017 drought.


Temperatures are indicated to be near to above normal, with precipitation near to below normal. Soil-moisture profiles that went through a recharge during spring will be tested. It will be important for the region to have El Niño continue through the summer season.


Temperatures are indicated to trend near to above normal, with precipitation near to below normal. Drought conditions that went through some easing during spring may revert back to their major stages.


Temperatures and precipitation show near-normal tendencies; however, interior desert areas may have below-normal precipitation. Near-normal temperatures suggest that irrigation resources will be efficiently used.


Temperatures and precipitation both display near-normal tendencies. Dryness that was featured in the region during spring may intensify due to El Niño’s tendency to be a drier weather-maker in the Northwest.

To sum up, this summer offers a seventh season of large crops. This run is not entirely due to luck; ongoing improvement in seed and technology has played a big part in setting the framework for this run. But, cooperative weather helps, and those conditions, by and large, are in place for the summer of 2019.

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Bryce Anderson

Bryce Anderson
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