DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick provided an ag weather outlook involving weather in both North and South America. (Photo credit: Kriss Nelson/Iowa Soybean Association)
Will dry west, wet east be repeated in ’22?
March 17, 2022 | Kriss Nelson
2021 featured record heat and drought in the western U.S. and very wet conditions in the eastern U.S.
Will that pattern show up again in the 2022 crop year?
DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick shared his insights during an ag weather outlook learning session held during the Commodity Classic in New Orleans last week.
Baranick says we are currently in a La Nina weather pattern with signs showing a shift to a neutral weather pattern.
“We have been in this pattern from the start of the year until a week ago,” he says. “We are starting to see that break down. Things are getting a bit more neutral because La Nina is starting to lose its grip.”
When predicting a spring weather outlook, sub-seasonal factors are influential but hard to predict in advance.
Sub-seasonal factors include soil moisture, snow, cloud cover and thunderstorm complexes over the Pacific Ocean.
“They all influence what will happen in our weather, and we are at a low-skill in predicting what those conditions have on the weather,” says Baranick. “There is a little more uncertainty in the forecast than we like.”
The outlook shows colder temperatures are likely in April, with some late frost risks expanding into May.
Rainfall events are most likely to continue across the eastern Corn Belt – an area that has seen plenty of rainfall. Wet conditions there, Baranick says, could mean for a shorter planting window.
Drought appears to continue in the Plains, with the dry conditions in the Southern Plains worsening.
“The dry west, the wet east situation we have had from last year looks like it will be continued for this spring,” Baranick says.
Baranick says much of the agricultural areas in the United States may be experiencing hot and dry conditions, except regions on the east coast or southwest portions of the country this summer.
“Temperatures are likely to be above normal just about everywhere with precipitation below normal and spottier,” he says.
Dry conditions could be a concern during July and August for nearly the entire country.
“I am concerned because we are talking about pollination in July and grain fill in August. This outlook is not favorable for that time period,” he says. “Spring rains may need to be the main basis for many areas to continue the crop into the summer season.”
Droughts, Baranick says, are likely to increase across the Plains and regionally elsewhere.
When it comes to developing a fall weather outlook, Baranick says it is beyond the weather model’s ability to forecast that far.
When looking ahead to Sept., Oct. and Nov., meteorologists will refer to analog years.
“We take it month by month and have more questions than answers,” says Baranick.
So far, it appears fall will bring more variable temperatures across most of the country except for the western states.
In terms of precipitation, Baranick expects spotty regional dryness continuing across the country, except for the gulf coast.
“It looks like there are variable temperatures during the fall to finish out the crop and getting out into the field. For precipitation, if we look at the fall season as a whole, I see a lot of variability and periods of wetness in all three months,” says Baranick. “They change month by month. I think we are going to see some areas get wet in September, some get wet in October, and some get wet in November.”
Brazil is heading into its second growing season. Previously, central and northern Brazil faired pretty well during their first season with their soybean crop.
Southern Brazil, however, did not fare as well.
“They’ve had well below normal precipitation. Since the end of November, they have been in a drought,” Baranick says.
Baranick says 60-70% of Brazil’s safrinha corn, which is planted after harvesting soybeans, has decent soil moisture to get started for the year.
The remaining 30% of the safrinha crop, however, does not.
“It is sitting in terribly low soil moisture levels,” he says. “It is a situation where they have good conditions going on north and terrible across the south.”
Argentina’s central and northern regions, where 60 to 70% of the total crop is raised, are in poor drought conditions. Although they have received some rain over the past couple of weeks, it may be too late. Crop conditions in that area are rated 20 to 30% good to excellent.
The southern areas of Argentina have received some timely rains and seem to be doing fine.
La Nina, Baranick says, has a significant influence on the weather in Brazil and Argentina.
“It shortens the length of the wet season in Central Brazil,” he says. “Central Brazil, being so close to the equator, is a tropical climate. They have a period of wetness where it rains just about every day and a dry period where it doesn’t rain. The biggest concern for them going forward in the next six to eight weeks is whether that wet season continues, or the rains shut off.”
Could frost be a hindrance again this year to South American crops?
In June, there could be some frost that might take the tops off the corn plants, which may not cause a huge issue.
There is a concern for the potential frost in June and July.
“Last year, they had three frosts in June and July, hitting when the crop was still pollinating,” says Baranick. “The frost basically killed the plant before getting any grain fill in many areas.”
Baranick says there might be some winter wheat establishment issues if they can’t get good rains in Argentina, as well.
The drought is also causing some logistics issues for shipping grain out of South America.
“A major way they ship grain out is through the Madeira River. That has been running with the lowest water levels in about 80 years,” says Baranick. “Barges are only going out 50% full. It is getting hard to ship grain out.”