La Niña is coming, La Niña is coming!
Farmers have heard this, and they may have heard it hurts crop yields on average. But what if they could get more specific and look at what weather they could reasonably expect on a month-to-month basis? What if they could dig into yield deviations from normal on a sub-state level rather than listen to proclamations about the entire Corn Belt?
Turns out there’s a tool from Useful to Usable (U2U) that does just that. U2U is a USDA-funded and Extension-driven project that offers a variety of informational climate tools for farmers and others in the agriculture industry. One of these is called the Climate Patterns Viewer.
The Climate Patterns Viewer looks at how the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) influence local climate conditions and corn yields. The interactive tool allows farmers to look at how past El Niño and La Niña events affected temperature and precipitation on a month-by-month basis.
Seeing a more detailed picture of summertime La Niñas reveal some nuance – they’re not singularly “good” or “bad” for corn yields, even if the net effect on corn yields during past events has been negative. As the map suggests, certain “garden spots” could play out in parts of the Dakotas, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. On average, parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana take the biggest corn yield hits in La Niña summers.
To explore the interactive Climate Patterns Viewer maps, visit https://mygeohub.org/groups/u2u/cpv.