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Expect Higher Yields With El Niño Sticking Around

Rain is coming, but we're still on schedule for #plant16.

According to Dr. Elwynn Taylor, a strong El Niño will likely still be in play until August and that means higher yields. How much higher? As of now, Taylor believes the most likely corn yield is 173 bushels per acre.

“An El Niño at current strength and persistence would likely be with us well into summer,” says Dr. Taylor, an Iowa State University Extension climatologist. “That would probably be long enough to encourage a higher yield than the trend line for corn, soybeans, and other agricultural produce.”

In El Niño years, favorable precipitation and bearable heat are standard conditions. 

Rainy days on the way

Rain is in sight and soil across the Corn Belt is already loaded with water, but don’t worry too much as extreme weather isn’t expected. 

Unless you’re in the southern part of the Corn Belt, it’s not likely to be a year for early planting as precipitation will be a factor in the next 10 days or so causing already moist soil to become even wetter, says Dan Hicks of Freese-Notis Weather. 

“It doesn’t take very much rain to be excessive when the soil is already holding all the water it can hold,” Dr. Taylor says.

The northeastern section of the Midwest may see greater rainfall and lower temperatures than other regions, which will likely slow any fieldwork and soil warming. Wisconsin, northeastern Illinois, northern Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan all fall under the umbrella of states that will find themselves in cold and wet conditions.

Dale Mohler, senior meteorologist at Accuweather, sees a chance of two storms materializing over the Midwest between April 10-15, which could cause some planting delays. If those storms end up developing, a period of rain and some thunderstorms would be likely.

The silver lining

Historically when we have a warmer than average winter, temperatures can be expected to be a bit higher and precipitation is often below average. This year was the warmest winter since 1895 for the lower 48 states. 

As spring continues, Hicks is leaning toward a forecast of warmer and drier weather. 

“I don’t see the weather during that time being a major problem for fieldwork and planting,” Hicks says.

According to Mohler, early planting may be likely for southern Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky as the next two weeks should bring favorable weather.

“In mid and later April, there will be progress made in the Midwest,” Hicks says. “I don’t see the weather during that time being a major problem for fieldwork and planting.”

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