Thursday, June 2, 2011

Climatology: "Do farmers face repeat of 1983-style devastation?" (DBA; MOO; DE; POT)

From Agrimoney:

La Nina may be dead, but that doesn't mean an end to the unusual weather patterns which have dogged the world's growers.
The US may continue to witness extremes – rain to the north and drier and hotter weather to the south – this summer, with Europe potentially facing a "historic drought", David Tolleris at says.
Some observers have made comparisons, for US weather, with 1983 when, as Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities says, "Mother Nature shut off the spigot in late June after a wet spring delayed planting".
"That is possible. It certainly looks like we have had a shift to a warmer and drier pattern for a lot of states," Mr Tolleris said, while saying he expected Midwest temperatures to prove -fortunately - relatively cool in July and August, after hotting up this month.
Bad year 
Farmers might hope for that mercy, given what a repeat of 1983 would mean.
That year was dire for US agriculture. Soybean output tumbled by one quarter, on yields which fell to a seven-year low of 26.2 bushels per acre.
Corn production near-halved, as wet weather prevented farmers sowing – plantings fell by 26% to 60,200 acres, is still the lowest on record – with yield on what was seeded tumbling 28% to 81.1 bushels per acre.
"The trouble was that root systems used to rain every other day did not develop fit for the dry spell that followed. They were too shallow," Mr Tolleris said, adding that this year's switch from wet conditions for much of the Corn Belt to dry was hardly ideal either.
"What you need is occasional moisture, and we are not getting that at the moment."
Cool pool 
The climatalogical culprit this time is an area of cold water off in the eastern Pacific, which is driving rain fronts into North America, from where they are being directed across the continent by a jet stream, a narrow belt of fast moving air some 10km up in the atmosphere....MORE
Long time readers may remember that, based on a search of the New York Times' archive to 1851, the preponderance of  incidences of the term "crop failure" occured during the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Here's the current Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Map from Unisys: 

Current Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly Plot