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Will La Nina Exit before Planting Season?

March 28, 2012
By: John Buckner, Farm Journal Executive Editor

Early-bird weather predictions like "stable" and "normal" are the comfort food equivalent of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. We like to know what we’re getting, and we don’t like to be disappointed.

"Most of the conditions that are being modeled right now are moving toward neutral conditions by late spring," says Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center. "The La Niña influence will start tapering off and we’re going to see more normal conditions by the end of spring and into the first part of summer."

The question however, is how soon the effects of La Niña will drop off. The good news is that farmers in the western Corn Belt and the Dakotas have only a slim chance, compared to an average year, of corn planting delays if La Niña conditions continue through spring. The bad news? Fuchs says a "wet signal" still exists in the models for second-year planting delays in the eastern Corn Belt.

Corn farmers in Ohio and eastern Indiana are more likely to experience a severe delay in the ideal planting period during a La Niña year than in an average year, according to the Climate Corporation. The San Francisco–based crop insurance company says combined expected losses for corn in Ohio and Indiana due to La Niña–induced planting delays are 40 million bushels, or $230 million.

p6 Will La Nina Exit before Planting Season Chart

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Early Spring 2012

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