Drought relief expected to help grain and cattle outlook


By Jennifer Carrico, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal

Feb 12, 2018


Drought conditions have been widespread across the United States due to the La Niña weather pattern seen in the area for the past few years, but relief could be seen soon.


CattleFax meteorologist Art Douglas said we should expect to get through the next three months and then see relief from the drought.


“The two forecast systems we use are predicting the possible transition from La Niña conditions to a weaker El Niño by the summer,” Douglas said. “U.S. weather patterns over the next three months will be dictated by La Niña. However, warming at the equator could shift drought patterns across North America by late spring and summer.”


The temperature forecast through May shows gradual warming across the southern U.S. after a colder February in north central states.


While Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have given some moisture relief in the southern U.S., there are still other areas suffering from extreme drought conditions. Spring planting in the Corn Belt could have drier soils in the west and wetter soils from Iowa to Ohio. The lack of moisture in the southern Plains will be tough on winter wheat and pasture growth, according to Douglas.


“If weaker El Niño conditions develop this summer, conditions at that time could be milder through the Midwest, but drier soils in the Plains and Southwest could create feedback mechanisms that increase heat in these areas. The Northwest and northern Rockies may have the only reliable grazing into late spring and summer,” Douglas said.


The La Niña conditions will continue to cause drought conditions in Argentina and northern Brazil for the remainder of the summer growing season. Australian cattle growing areas have developed drought conditions also. These drought conditions in other areas of the world will lead to the need for more grain and beef production in the U.S.


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