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Weak El Niño May Mean Wetter-Than-Normal Summer Midwest Weather

Commodity Weather Group forecasts wet summer will boost corn, soybean yields.

A weak El Niño pattern will develop in the Pacific, meaning there’s the likelihood of a wetter summer in the Midwest, Commodity Weather Group, the Bethesda, Maryland-based forecaster, said in a seasonal report Tuesday.

The wetter-than-normal weather likely will have a negative effect on planting but a positive impact on crops that get planted due to ample moisture, the forecaster said. The El Niño pattern will mean warmer waters near the Baja Peninsula and relatively cooler waters in the Pacific Northwest.

“The central (and) southwest Midwest is at most risk for slower-than-average corn (and) soy seeding, but rains aid moisture for the heart of the Corn Belt heading into summer,” CWG said in the report. “Summer temperature outlook trended warmer in the eastern U.S., but mostly unchanged in the Corn Belt, keeping the threat for notable Midwest-focused heat low this season.”

The greatest threat for warmth would be warmer nights rather than hotter days.

Weather forecasters tend to look back when trying to determine what will happen in any given year, and 2017 doesn’t quite fit into any of the prior models, CWG said. The closest years would be 1957, 1993, 2004, 2009, and 2014.

In 1993, incessant rain caused extreme flooding in the Midwest, a divergence from expected patterns, so CWG excluded that year when making its forecast, the company said. Still, the Corn Belt will need to be watched for excessive precipitation, though it likely won’t be a problem.

The trend this year will be “supportive of above-trend” corn and soybean yields in the U.S., though some minor growing areas along the Gulf Coast and in the southeast and mid-Atlantic regions may be under threat from dry weather, CWG said.

Spring wheat also will benefit from the El Niño pattern as moisture will be ample in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Plains. The good news for wheat growers in Montana and the Dakotas is that the wet weather likely won’t arrive until after the prime planting window in May.

The same can’t be said for the southern Plains where growers will be trying to get their hard-red winter wheat out of the ground at the start of the summer. Wet weather during the normal harvest period may put yields in peril, according to the forecaster.

“The wet pattern for winter wheat harvest threatens both delays to progress and quality (and) disease impacts in the Midwest, central Plains, and northern Delta,” CWG said.

In Canada, a cool pattern in the prairies will keep fieldwork slow in May and could affect producers’ planting decisions, and periods of dry weather in the summer may allow stress on spring crops, particularly in the northern half of the country’s wheat and canola belts.

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