After a cool, wet summer this year, which provided Midwest crops with more than enough moisture, at least one forecaster is saying there is a 50/50 chance that next summer will be hotter and drier.
Historical patterns show that a La Nina event often follows a strong El Nino, said Corey Cherr, head of agriculture and weather commodities research and forecasts at Thomson Reuters.
A La Nina is abnormal cooling of the sea surface in the equatorial Pacific, while El Nino is the warming of the sea surface. Both events can affect weather conditions around the world.
"There is a 50-50 shot at getting a La Nina following this kind of strong El Nino, maybe more," Cherr told Farm Futures. "After the last two El Ninos that we have seen, in 1997 and 1982, they were followed by some pretty strong La Ninas."
Also, he said the 1988 La Nina, which produced a summer drought in the Midwest that drove up crop prices, followed the 1987 El Nino.
For Midwest crops, the transition to a La Nina event would occur in the summer of 2016 with the event reaching its peak in the fall. History shows that could bring "above-normal summertime temperatures, especially in July and August," he said.
In 1983, Chicago corn futures finished the year at about $3.77 a bushel, versus 1982's $2.45. Hot, dry summer weather, plus fewer planted acres, led to a 50% drop in 1983 production to 4.2 billion bushels.
In 1988, corn closed at $2.84-1/2 versus 1987's $1.85. Production was down 30% at 4.93 billion as drought cut the yield to 84.6 bushels per acre, from 1987's then record 119.8.
Outside of the United States, Cherr said past transitions from one event to the other have produced dry conditions in Argentina crop areas. If that pattern develops this time, he said the dry weather would occur in Argentina's summer of December 2106 to March 2017.