Technology helps corn growers stave off effects of El Nino and La Nina

The drought of 2012 was the last time when weather had a significant impact on grain markets.  | File photo

The warm weather of El Nino and the coolness of La Nina have the potential to greatly affect corn crops, but technology has helped farmers to better manage their fields leading to better yields despite the weather.

“This past summer, we saw warmer than normal temperatures across the U.S., and the [Climate Prediction Center] recorded that there have been only three instances since 1950 when temperature departures have been this large during April to June,” Al Dutcher, a Nebraska Extension state climatologist who specializes in climate data analysis and crop/weather relationships, said.

This upcoming summer will also be affected by El Nino and El Nina. If El Nino stays active during the summer, the eastern Corn Belt will experience drier than normal conditions. If El Nino morphs into La Nina, the dry conditions will be seen during the end of the growing season in the Midwest.

“Looking at the most current forecasts, El Nino looks to have reached its peak and is now starting to weaken, going back to near neutral conditions into the late spring/early summer period,” Dutcher said. “We can see significant late winter and early spring precipitation events here in the Central Plains.”

The drought of 2012 was the last time when weather had a significant impact on grain markets. 

“Weather is a factor in every grain market, every year," U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO Tom Sleight said. "During and well after the 2012 drought, USGC had a consistent conversation with international buyers on crop status, drought monitor updates and more. We ended up having the eighth-largest corn crop in U.S. history, which reassured customers of the diversity, depth and resilience of U.S. coarse grain production.”

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