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NOAA: Mild Summer Forecast
Friday, May 22, 2015 2:29PM CDT

By Bryce Anderson
DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist

OMAHA (DTN) -- El Nino conditions are in place in the Pacific Ocean, and the presence of that feature has forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting that summer weather will be generally mild across the primary U.S. crop regions.

El Nino is an ocean and atmospheric feature in the Pacific equatorial region, characterized by above-normal ocean temperatures and a prevailing west-to-east jet stream in the subtropical latitudes.

"We are seeing a big area of the Pacific warming to above-normal temperatures from South America to the International Date Line," said forecaster David Unger of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. "Also, forecast models show a 90% chance of this warming to continue through fall. The strength is uncertain, but we are seeing the atmosphere reinforcing the temperature trend."

Both the NOAA June forecast and the June-July-August forecast -- which will encompass corn pollination and the majority of soybean blooming, pod-setting and pod-filling -- feature seasonal temperatures in most crop areas except for the Southern Plains, where the forecast trend is for below-normal values. Precipitation is expected to be above normal in the central and southern Plains, Deep South, Southeast and in the Rocky Mountains. Other major crop areas are predicted to have near-normal rainfall amounts.

The key feature of this summer forecast is the lack of widespread stress over the U.S. corn and soybean belts.

"I'm looking for generally 'non-extreme' in the way of temperature, maybe a little cooler than average," said Dennis Today, South Dakota State Climatologist. "Precipitation may not be very wet, but likely sufficient, even in the drier areas, (for crops) to do fairly well."

Todey is optimistic about yield prospects. "I think slightly above-trend yield is the way to describe the impact of El Nino," he said.

Grain market reaction to this forecast is generally expected to be bearish, reflective of the idea that the summer weather pattern will be favorable for big crops.

"With corn and soybean supplies already plentiful and soybean plantings at a new record high, another year of good crops that seems likely with this forecast will keep row-crop supplies abundant and keep potential buyers relaxed on the sidelines -- a bearish dynamic for corn and

soybean prices," said DTN analyst Todd Hultman.

Some meteorological agency forecast models call for El Nino conditions to strengthen to a similar category as the very strong El Nino of 1997-98. One feature of the current Pacific trend that brings a cautionary note, however, is that the current El Nino is out of season compared with other warm-water Pacific events, which usually develop and intensify during the November-December timeframe.

"This is the 'wrong' time of year for El Nino," said NOAA Central Region Climate Services Director Doug Kluck with an emphasis on the word 'wrong.' "The caveat is wait a few months. If there's a consistent sign of this strength, there may be something to that."

Bryce Anderson can be reached at bryce.anderson@dtn.com

Follow Bryce Anderson on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


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