Could 2017 Bring Delayed Planting, Record Yields?

January 25, 2017 04:06 PM
Could 2017 Bring Delayed Planting, Record Yields?

As January comes to a close, farmers are turning their attention away from the previous harvest and toward the crop year ahead. Producers could see some unfriendly weather in the coming year, says Joe D’Aleo, chief forecaster for WeatherBELL.  

Weather patterns are shifting from La Nina back toward ENSO-neutral and potentially an El Nino cycle.

“We’ve been in a weak La Nina they are expecting it to move toward El Nino,” D’Aleo says.  

El Nino could mean early planting is out of the question for much of the country, he adds. “Colder temperatures could delay planting,” D’Aleo told attendees Wednesday, Jan. 25, during the opening day of the 2017 Top Producer Seminar in Chicago. “Fields might not be too wet, but cold temperatures could cause a delay.”

Should El Nino fully develop and stick around through the summer months, farmers can expect increased yields. Yet record yields will only matter if farmers can get the crop out of the ground, and some models D’Aleo has reviewed show wetter-than-normal weather during harvest 2017.

Drowning the Drought

A switch to El Nino has positive implications for producers in exceptionally dry areas such as California, where D’Aleo says the drought is nearly over. Record rainfall in the Golden State over the past two months has caused flooding in many areas. “Drought often ends in flood,” D’Aleo says. “That’s what producers in California are experiencing.”

Additionally, D’Aleo expects increased snowfall around the world compared to last year. That’s great news for producers in the West who rely on mountain snowpack for irrigation water.

Producers in the Southeast aren’t so lucky, though. El Nino doesn’t always mean increased rainfall in the Southeast, D’Aleao says. “That region will continue to see drought issues throughout 2017,” he says 

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