Expect more of the same weather patterns in 2012 as the La Niña continues to strengthen.
"La Niña is recovering in strength and, with this recovery, we may stay in the same weather pattern we had for the past year," Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University professor of ag meteorology, explained at during the recent Iowa State Integrated Crop Management Conference in Ames.
Among other impacts, Taylor says that would mean another winter of wide temperature variability, from colder-than-normal one week to warmer-than-normal the next. It would mean another winter of heavy winter snow and spring runoff in Montana, as well as heavy precipitation in Ohio making for spring planting problems. In the Southern Plains, the resurgent La Niña likely means little opportunity to break the drought.
Though the current La Niña ended the summer as the third-strongest on record, Taylor says it is now the second-strongest, wedged between the two other strongest La Niña episodes in the mid 1950s and mid 1970s.
If the weather pattern persists – odds are better than 50% it will continue through next summer, Taylor says – it's more likely that the next corn crop could be significantly lower than trend-line yield. La Niña contributed to below-trend line yields in 2011. If La Niña continues, Taylor says production would likely be less this year because subsoil moisture won't have a chance to recover until June.
You can see the BEEF TV interview with Taylor at beefmagazine.com/beeftv/.