Angel’s assessment is corroborated by IA St. meteorologist Elwynn Taylor who says the 2012 crop pulled the moisture out of 8 ft. of soil, requiring 16 additional inches of precipitation to return to normal conditions, and adds, “It is not likely that subsoil moisture will be fully replenished by the beginning of the 2013 planting season.” He says such deficits increases the risk of low yields, and prevents recovery of stream, river and pond levels to normal.
Taylor agrees also with Angel’s “long slow recovery.” He says, “Severely deficit precipitation years of the magnitude of 2012 do not recover to normal annual precipitation in a single year. Accordingly, an additional year of significant moisture stress is considered to be not unlikely and a fourth consecutive year of below trend U.S. corn yield a distinct possibility. The probabilities will become more definitive in the early weeks of 2013 as the likely phase of the El Nino/La Nina for the growing season becomes manifest.” Taylor says the trend corn yield for 2013 should be near 160 bu., but he is forecasting about 147 bu.
July 22, 2010 was the birth date of the latest La Nina, which brought the 2012 drought. Elwynn Taylor says the Pacific equatorial sea surface temperature which determines either El Nino or La Nina conditions, has been trending toward another La Nina since late summer, as indicated by the blue line.
The eastern Cornbelt has a better chance of escaping more drought than the western Cornbelt in the eyes of Ken Scheeringa. He is on the climatology staff at Purdue and says the Gulf of Mexico is the key to breaking the drought, “The Gulf is a major source of our moisture and it's really hard to shut off that water supply for an extended time. Our research shows the longest Indiana droughts have lasted about 18 months. The state can have frequent minor droughts, but if they happen in the colder months the impacts are less than if they happen during the growing season.” With no direct path to Gulf moisture, Scheeringa said it’s more difficult for the western states to break a drought pattern. “Once western droughts take hold, they can last multiple years, or even a decade.”
Weather specialists are making a case for continued drought conditions into 2013 and possibly beyond with the re-emergence of a La Nina climate trend and a less costly opportunity to manage that potential production risk. Regarding the weather, the 2012 crop removed 16 inches of water from the topsoil and subsoil and it will take a long time to regain that lost moisture. Forecasts for 2013 point to short soil moisture throughout much of the Cornbelt. At the same time, USDA’s newly released crop insurance ratings indicate most Cornbelt states will have lower corn and soybean premiums, despite the drought of 2012 and lower crop yields. The reason is that Cornbelt farmers have been paying more premiums than they have been getting back, and the system is supposed to have equal dollars in premiums and indemnity payments.
Source: FarmGate blog