El Niño Is Coming

El Niño is likely to be a factor for agriculture in the U.S. this year. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say how much of a factor it will be.

In a June 26 webinar, “El Niño is Coming! Everything You Never Needed to Know About El Niño (and a few things you should),” Jeff Doran, Planalytics Sr. Business Meteorlogist says there’s a 70% likelihood that we will be shifting into El Niño, and in fact, may already be in the beginning phases. The question remains how long and how strong that El Niño pattern will be – and those factors have a significant impact on whether it will be a positive for agricultural markets.

What is El Niño?

El Niño is a sustained warming of sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. La Niña occurs when those temperatures are in a cooler phase.

El Niño conditions exist when those average sea surface temperatures are at least 0.5°F warmer than normal temperatures for five consecutive three-month periods.

While growers and farmers in the drought-stricken West are looking to El Niño and its cooler air temperatures and increased precipitation as salvation after several hot dry years, it’s important to note that El Niño is not really a “black or white” event.

“Not all El Niños are alike,” Doran says. “The intensity of El Niño will be the major determinant in temperatures and precipitation amounts regionally in the U.S.”

El Niño events can be classified as weak (average sea surface temperatures > 0.5°F above normal), moderate (> 1°F above normal) or strong (>1.5°F above normal). The last El Niño period, from approximately August 2009 to May 2010, was classified as strong. We experienced La Nina conditions from 2010 to 2012, Doran says.

A strong El Niño weather pattern with its more moderate temperatures and increased precipitation would be beneficial for U.S. agriculture, particularly in the West. Image courtesy of Planalytics.
A strong El Niño weather pattern with its more moderate temperatures and increased precipitation would be beneficial for U.S. agriculture, particularly in the West. Image courtesy of Planalytics.

El Niño’s Effect On Agriculture

More moderate temperatures across the board can be expected with El Niño.

“That’s pretty decent news for agribusiness because we’ll see less extreme heat,” Doran says.

There are more significant differences in precipitation depending on the strength of an El Niño, however. With weak conditions, we shouldn’t expect to see precipitation much above normal levels. A moderate to strong classification, however, means much more chance for increased precipitation in the Midwest and West.

“A weak El Niño is not what we want,” Doran says. “That means cooler conditions than normal in the north. We won’t see more moisture in West, and some will shift to the Southeast.”

A moderate El Niño would be better for the corn belt with more moisture in the Midwest.

“We would like to be in a strong El Niño scenario,” Doran says. “That’s where the West will benefit.”

During the winter timeframe from December to March, we would likely see the most benefit with an increased snowpack which is critical for providing moisture to the West throughout the rest of the year.”

Some metrics aren’t pointing as strongly toward El Niño to this point. With an El Niño, easterly trade winds weaken, and that hasn’t happened yet. Two other measurements, the Southern Oscillation Index and the Indian Ocean Dipole, also aren’t indicating an El Niño, although those conditions can change quickly, he says.

Doran puts the probability that we officially see El Niño conditions this year at 70%. “We are seeing considerable sea surface warming over last the last three months,” Doran says. “We can’t tell where we’ll be right now. We’re cautiously optimistic, though.”

 

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories

Insect & Disease UpdatePositive Attitudes Promote Citrus Planting
September 23, 2014
Improving management methods gives growers confidence in the future. Read More
CitrusNational Farmers Union Submits Comments On Clean Water Act
September 23, 2014
Organization urges other industry groups to submit constructive comments. Read More
CitrusLuke Bryan Pays It Forward For Farming
September 23, 2014
Country superstar honors agriculture with his Farm Tour. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement National Produce Safety Rule
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
MarketingMarketer Finds Niche With First-Of-Its-Kind Orange Maze
September 12, 2014
Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Not Bob McKellar, creator of the first orange maze in the U.S. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateMore Coastal Land In California Quarantined For Asian Citrus Psyllid
September 12, 2014
Additional Asian citrus psyllid adults and nymphs found on state’s central coast. Read More
CitrusFMC Acquires Cheminova
September 9, 2014
Transaction expected to close in early 2015. Read More

The Latest

CitrusMajor Florida Citrus Planting Incentive Program Announc…
September 23, 2014
Citrus World Inc. plans to invest $10 million to encourage new acreage. Read More
CitrusNational Farmers Union Submits Comments On Clean Water …
September 23, 2014
Organization urges other industry groups to submit constructive comments. Read More
CitrusLuke Bryan Pays It Forward For Farming
September 23, 2014
Country superstar honors agriculture with his Farm Tour. Read More
CitrusNew Superhero Aims To Save Florida Citrus
September 22, 2014
Unique marketing partnership comes to life through comics. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
CitrusFMC Acquires Cheminova
September 9, 2014
Transaction expected to close in early 2015. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Wet Season Receives Slight Respite
September 9, 2014
Reports indicate most areas around the region received below average rainfall during August. Read More
CitrusWhole Farm Revenue Protection Adds Up For Crop Insuranc…
September 4, 2014
New USDA program to provide coverage for all agricultural commodities. Read More
CitrusUniversity Of Florida’s Class Of 2018 Raises The Bar …
September 4, 2014
Arriving College Of Agriculture And Life Sciences students bring strong credentials and diversity. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers, Beekeepers Deal Proving To Be B…
September 3, 2014
EPA encourages further promotion and partnership in similar voluntary programs across the country. Read More
CitrusHarness The Marketing Power Of Video
September 1, 2014
Multimedia platform is an effective and inexpensive marketing tool for you to attract new customers and keep existing ones loyal to your brand. Read More
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Knocks NPR Piece Over Juic…
August 28, 2014
Agency goes to bat for the industry regarding statement slighting OJ's health benefits. Read More
CitrusFlorida Energy Firm Charged Up About Citrus Biomass Pot…
August 28, 2014
Machine called a game-changer when it comes to a cost-effective, efficient way for tree removal and re-purposing. Read More
CitrusNational Scientific Summit On Herbicide Resistant Weeds…
August 27, 2014
Topics to be covered include the economics of proactively managing herbicide resistance, education and outreach efforts, and incentives and regulatory initiatives. Read More
CitrusClean Water Conundrum: Ditch The Rule Or Ditch The Myth…
August 26, 2014
Regulation inundation causing a rising tide of confusion for farmers. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Citrus Cleared For Chinese Export
August 25, 2014
New agreement addresses concerns over brown rot. Read More
CitrusConsolidated Citrus Eyes Giant Planned Agricultural, Em…
August 25, 2014
South Florida real estate endeavor includes a 5 million-square-foot industrial park, including 200,000 square feet of retail space and 500 hotel rooms. Read More
Citrus‘Super Cold’ Winter, Sizzling Summer On Tap In 2015…
August 21, 2014
The 223rd edition of the folksy regional forecast manual predicting extremes. Read More