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
healthy piece of citrus
Citrus Achievement AwardNeglected Research, Future Growers Top Of Mind For 2015 Citrus Achievement Award Winner
July 1, 2015
Orie Lee advises young up-and-comers to supplement production knowledge with business acumen; calls for more focus on blight. Read More
money down the drain
CitrusGovernor’s Budget Veto Likely To Shutter UF/IFAS Invasive Pest Quarantine Lab
June 25, 2015
A $180,000 increase, plus another $720,000 in funding for program gone in the stroke of a pen. Read More
blue orchard bee
CitrusPlight Of Pollinators Presenting Sticky Situation
June 24, 2015
Growers, beekeepers, and the ag-chem industry urged to work together to protect pollinators and plants. Read More
dripping orange
CitrusFlorida Legislative Session Bittersweet For Citrus
June 23, 2015
Gov. Rick Scott OKs almost $20 million to fight HLB; vetoes nearly $4 million in other related initiatives. Read More
CitrusCalifornia High Heat Warning Issued
June 23, 2015
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is advising all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the Read More
Close-up of Sugar Belle LB 8-9
Varieties & RootstocksSounds Like Chime Is Right For Sugar Belle LB 8-9
June 22, 2015
Well-vetted variety is finding its sweet spot amid today’s HLB-influenced production practices. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusResearchers Ready To Testify Before Congress About GMOs
June 22, 2015
UF/IFAS grad students seeking to field questions relating to the GMO regulatory processes, food labeling, and product safety. Read More
The Latest
Photo of New Guinea flatworm found near Coral Gables, FL
CitrusSouth Florida’s Newest Pest Has Significant Ooze Factor
July 2, 2015
The infamous New Guinea flatworm, one of the ‘world's worst invasive alien species,’ might have found a new home. Read More
CitrusFlorida’s Young Farmers Working To Bridge Generation Ga…
July 2, 2015
Leadership conference to give GenNext Growers tools to become better agvocates. Read More
CitrusIndustry Stakeholders Rip Report Linking Citrus Consump…
July 1, 2015
Associations react swiftly; call out flaws in study released by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read More
money down the drain
CitrusGovernor’s Budget Veto Likely To Shutter UF/IFAS …
June 25, 2015
A $180,000 increase, plus another $720,000 in funding for program gone in the stroke of a pen. Read More
blue orchard bee
CitrusPlight Of Pollinators Presenting Sticky Situation
June 24, 2015
Growers, beekeepers, and the ag-chem industry urged to work together to protect pollinators and plants. Read More
dripping orange
CitrusFlorida Legislative Session Bittersweet For Citrus
June 23, 2015
Gov. Rick Scott OKs almost $20 million to fight HLB; vetoes nearly $4 million in other related initiatives. Read More
CitrusCalifornia High Heat Warning Issued
June 23, 2015
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is advising all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusResearchers Ready To Testify Before Congress About GMOs
June 22, 2015
UF/IFAS grad students seeking to field questions relating to the GMO regulatory processes, food labeling, and product safety. Read More
2015 Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference crowd
CitrusFlorida Citrus Growers’ Resolve Put To The Test
June 22, 2015
During annual conference, industry leaders call for an ‘all in’ approach to survive current crisis. Read More
CitrusPollinator Protection Dependent On Pure Partnerships [O…
June 18, 2015
Florida bee BMPs program has not only improved cooperation between growers and beekeepers, but also shows that voluntary efforts work. Read More
UF/IFAS certificate of farm labor management
CitrusFlorida Growers Working Toward Safety And Equality
June 17, 2015
New Certificate Program educates farm supervisors on best practices. Read More
CitrusPresident Obama Allocates $110M For Drought-Relief
June 16, 2015
On Friday, President Obama announced the investment of $110 million to support workers, farmers, and rural communities suffering from drought Read More
Lake Howell in Casselberry, FL
CitrusFarm Bureau Offers Detailed Analysis Of Waters Of The U…
June 15, 2015
Rule will give EPA “sweeping powers” to regulate land use, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Read More
Florida BMPs grower meeting
CitrusFlorida BMPs Program Racks Up More Successes
June 15, 2015
The Florida legislature passed the 1999 Florida Watershed Restoration Act that gives the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Read More
secrets can do lots of damage
CitrusConfidentiality Counterproductive For Today’s Far…
June 15, 2015
No longer is transparency an anomaly among the grower community, it's become necessary to survive and succeed. Read More
squeezing an orange
CitrusFlorida Citrus Season Grinding Toward Sour Finish
June 10, 2015
USDA’s updated estimate keeps orange count in check at historically low total. Read More
Charlotte's Web-medical marijuana in greenhouse
CitrusFlorida Still Playing Medical Marijuana Waiting Game
June 9, 2015
Growers and potential patients hold their breath while next steps are taken to spin Charlotte’s Web. Read More
CitrusParamount Farms Renamed As Part Of The Wonderful Compan…
June 9, 2015
Roll Global officially changed its name to The Wonderful Company recently. This strategic move will align the company’s long-standing passion Read More