Whether or not you consider an El Niño positive or negative in your neck of the woods, it’s apparently on the way.
Scientists at the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) expect the latest El Niño—the periodic warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific waters—to continue developing with possible strengthening over the next several months. This particular global climate phenomenon occurs every 2-5 years and typically last about 12 months. The most recent occurred in 2006.
For the U.S., El Niño usually means less Atlantic hurricane activity, more moisture than normal in the Southwest and less wintry weather across the North. The extra moisture can also mean more storms in the South, as well as damaging storm along the West Coast.
NOAA scientists note El Niño's impacts depend on a variety of factors, such as intensity, extent of ocean warming, and the time of year.
For the week ending July 12, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:
Corn — 16% is at or beyond silking, compared to 12% last year and 32% for average. Progress remained at or behind the average in all states except North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas where 92%, 22% and 79% of the crop was silking, respectively. Progress was two weeks and just over one week behind the average pace in Illinois and Indiana, the second and fifth largest corn-producing states, respectively, while silking had not yet begun in South Dakota. The corn crop was rated 71% Good to Excellent, 7% more than a year ago.
Soybeans — Blooming reached 24% overall. That’s 1% slower than last year, and 19% behind average. The most rapid development was evident in the western Corn Belt where 18% and 16% of the crop began blooming in Nebraska and Iowa, respectively. However, all estimating states lagged the five-year average. 66% is rated as Good to Excellent, which is 7% more than at the same time last year.
Winter wheat — 66% of the crop is harvested, which is 3% ahead of last year, but 3% behind the average pace.
Spring wheat — 57% of the crop has headed, which is 24% behind last year, and 26% behind the average pace, or more than a week behind normal. Aided by ideal growing conditions, significant head development occurred in Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota; however, progress remained well behind normal in all three states. 71% of the crop was rated Good to Excellent, 10% more than a year ago.
Barley — 55% has headed, which is 20% in back of last year and 25% behind the average pace. The most development was evident in North Dakota, the largest barley-producing state, where 40% of the crop began heading during the week. 78% is rated Good to Excellent, compared to 67% at the same time a year ago.
Sorghum — 29% is at or beyond heading, 1% ahead of last year but 3% behind the average pace. With activity limited to Colorado, Louisiana and Texas, sorghum coloring has reached 24% complete, 2 points ahead of last year and 1 point ahead of the five-year average. 52% is rated Good to Excellent, 2% more than the same time a year ago.
Oats — 90% is at or beyond heading, 2 points slower than last year, and 4% behind the five-year average. Following a slow start earlier in the growing season, 46% of North Dakota’s crop developed heads during the week; however, progress remained 20 points behind last year and the 5-year average. 11% of the crop is in the bin, which is on par with last year but 2% behind the five-year average. 59% was rated Good and Excellent, compared to 61% at the same time last year.
Pasture — 50% of the nation’s pasture and range is rated as Good or Excellent, 1% more than at the same time last year. 23% is rated Poor or Very Poor, compared to 24% a year ago.
States with the worst pasture conditions—at least 40% of the acreage rated Poor or worse—include: Arizona (57%); California (90%); Louisiana (45%); Mississippi (47%); New Mexico (48%); and Texas (57%).
The lushest conditions—at least 40% rated Good or better—exist in: Arkansas (43%); Colorado (70%); Florida (80%); Georgia (40%); Idaho (80%); Illinois (72%); Indiana (70%); Iowa (71%); Kansas (65%); Kentucky (70%); Maryland (66%); Michigan (62%); Minnesota (55%); Missouri (65%); Montana (46%); Nebraska (82%); Nevada (64%); New York (86%); North Carolina (55%); North Dakota (76%); Ohio (55%); Oklahoma (40%); Oregon (56%); Pennsylvania (59%); South Carolina (49%); South Dakota (67%); Tennessee (57%); Utah (81%); Virginia (71%); West Virginia (71%); Wisconsin (50%); and Wyoming (86%).