The News & What it Means – El Nino Odds Increasing but Little Canadian Weather Impact Expected

By John DePutter & Dave Milne – December 18, 2018

 

The news:

“Government forecasters today increased the odds El Nino will develop this winter and last into spring.”

– Farm Futures, Dec. 17, 2018

 

What it means:

For Canadian producers, it doesn’t mean much.

 

The latest report from the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service raised the odds for El Nino during November-January to 96%, up from 84% last month. Further, the report indicated better than 50% odds of El Nino lasting into the June-August period.

 

As noted by the Farm Futures story, the likely formation of an El Nino event is generally good news for American producers, in that it tends to bring moderate temperatures and abundant rainfall to the country’s main growing regions, thus increasing the potential for higher yields.

 

Although there is some evidence that El Nino creates a slight bias toward dryness in the central and eastern US Midwest during winter and spring, the probability of widespread crop problems is not sharply above average.

 

El Nino mostly neutral for Canadian summer

But what about Canada?

 

The official word from Environment Canada is that historically, Canada is mostly affected by El Niño during the winter and spring months – outside of the main growing season. Typically, El Nino events mean milder than normal winters and springs in Western Canada, along with Ontario and Quebec. That’s certainly positive for those who are not big fans of winter and those producers who want/need to get on their land as quickly as possible in the spring.

 

However, it doesn’t appear El Nino will swing the Canadian growing season one way or the other. Indeed, a comparison of El Nino years going back to 1950 conducted by weather forecaster AccuWeather shows that while the Prairies may have experienced slightly warmer summertime temperatures, there was no discernable or consistent impact on precipitation levels.

 

Prairie drought remains

There’s still plenty of time and weather between now and spring, but it bears noting that long-term drought still remains entrenched across large areas of the Prairies, even after all the rain and snow in September and October that badly delayed this year’s harvest. In fact, it is widely expected several areas of Western Canada will still be dealing with drought once the snow melts in the spring.

 

 

Of course, the worst-case scenario for farmers in Western Canada is that they experience a third dry growing season in a row, lowering yields and giving them less to sell during a time when potentially ideal weather in the US means large America crops are weighing on global prices.

 

The weather is always the main factor in determining yields and production. Keep an eye on conditions and other agricultural developments all over the world with our daily morning report service.

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