By Michele F. Mihaljevich
MCHENRY, Ill. – Most of the Eastern Corn Belt could see near to above average precipitation this spring, while western areas may contend with near to below average levels, according to the president of World Weather, Inc.
“The eastern Midwest will have probably too much moisture in the spring and there’s going to be some flooding and there’s going to be delays in field work,” Drew Lerner explained. “Now it’s not necessarily going to prevail all the way through the spring but I do think that will be an issue for a little while.”
He expects the pattern to change by summer, as the central United States could be dealing with below normal precipitation. The Eastern Corn Belt could see normal, or near to below normal, moisture.
Weather patterns such as La Nina will impact the amount of precipitation the country sees, Lerner noted. A recent forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggested the current La Nina may linger through the spring.
If La Nina lasts deeper into the summer, it could reduce rainfall from whatever pattern was expected to prevail, he said.
Lerner spoke during Allendale, Inc.’s annual winter Ag Leaders Conference Series, released Jan. 26.
The drought impacting western North America began in 2020, he said. In looking at the period from Dec. 31, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021, “the drought didn’t go away but it changed. We did see the intensity of the drought ease in the Rocky Mountain region and the far western states to some degree. We saw over the course of the past year, the drought worsen in parts of Canada.
“North America is already in a multi-year drought although it has favored the western parts of the continent. There may be some potential for an eastward drift in the drought during 2022.”
Over the 60-day period ending Jan. 20, Lerner said a very dry bias has been present in the Plains from Texas north to Nebraska. Most of the Midwest, meanwhile, is plenty moist. “The point here about the soil moisture in key production areas is the fact that we’re wet east and dry in the Plains and Western Corn Belt,” he said.
The potential exists for the current drought conditions in North America to prevail, at least on and off, for the next few years, he stated. Weather patterns will determine specifically where a drought might be found, Lerner added.
His official forecast calls for temperatures during the spring to be near to above normal for Illinois, Iowa, most of Indiana and Ohio, and parts of Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. The rest of the region is expected to see normal temperatures.
For summer, above normal temperatures are forecast for Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, most of Illinois, and parts of Indiana and Ohio. The rest of the area is expected to see near to above normal temperatures.
Precipitation for spring is forecast to be normal, to near to above normal, for the entire region with the exception of Iowa and northern Illinois, which will see near to below normal conditions.
Summer precipitation is expected to be below normal, or near to below, for Iowa, Illinois and parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. Rainfall is expected to be normal for Ohio, most of Michigan, eastern Indiana and the rest of Kentucky.
Corn and soybean acreage
Increases in the price of fertilizer have raised costs per acre for farmers, and that may have an impact on how much corn and soybeans are planted this year, said Rich Nelson, Allendale’s chief strategist.
“As it stands right now, we’ve added, depending on the producers and the products you’re going to use, anywhere from $140 per acre up to $180 per acre for corn,” he stated. “Soybeans, we’ve added anywhere from $40 per acre in extra cost now up to potentially $100 per acre in extra costs.
“The bottom line (is) there will be some type of push into soybeans but the question is, how much? Is it going to be a major disruptor? The issue for us on why we’re not going to have this 5-6-7-8 million acre change in the corn-soybean mix is probably simply the fact that markets have offset some of this cost issue already. These markets have already priced some of these issues in.”
Allendale has estimated a drop in planted acres for corn and an increase in soybeans from 2021.
“We have a lot of question marks going into this year,” said Greg McBride, a broker with the company. “Our number as far as (corn) acreage goes, we’re going to drop us by about 1 ½ million acres, to 91.85 (million). As you look at that number, that should not ring any bullish bells. That is not a massively bullish number. If we were closer to 89 or 90 (million acres), maybe we could be starting to look at that. If you look at the way USDA is moving for trend, we’re talking about 180 bushels an acre, we’re still going to see an increase in production off of that number.”
Allendale is projecting a crop of 15.2 billion bushels, up from 2021’s 15.1 billion.
For soybeans, Allendale is estimating planted acres of nearly 89 million, up from 87.2 million last year. Trend yield is 52.2 bushels. If those numbers are realized, production would be 4.6 billion bushels, up from last year’s record of 4.4 billion.