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2020 vs. 2019: It’s All About Rain

By Adam Pasch

October 9, 2020 Update: Expanded drought conditions

The regions of Drought spread to more regions during the month of September. The image below is a comparison of the Drought Monitor between October 1 2019 and 2020. Even more of the country was in Severe to Extreme Drought compared to the same time in 2019. Most of the corn and soy growing regions have already matured and some regions have been harvested.

Oct Weather

The Percent of Normal precipitation map for September 2020 shows that most of the Central Plains and southern Illinois observed 10-50% of the normal amount of rainfall. As mentioned in prior months if the dry conditions continued, yields would be impacted and we are seeing yields trending below the USDA averages in these areas of Severe and Extreme Drought.

Early yield forecasts from the USDA and CIBO both suggested higher yields across the country. While supply does affect commodity pricing, prices are more impacted by demand. The USDA is showing a rebound in pricing – especially soy-based on global demand. Commodity prices have seen a recent rally with renewed demand but regionalized effects may still be felt due to the one-two punch of drought and derecho. The local drought conditions and derecho-damaged infrastructure combined with higher than average yields in other, unaffected regions may make it tough for logistics, storage and operators in the hardest-hit drought and derecho affected regions. 

Lenders, underwriters, insurance adjusters, appraisers and managers should be proactive in outreach to their portfolio members to provide better customer service and prepare for next year. Farmers should be thinking now about cover-cropping for the winter and leaving biomass in place to help regenerate the soils and reduce erosion in preparation for 2021. 

Sept weather

September 10, 2020 Update: Continued drought conditions in Iowa, northern Illinois, and western Texas.

The image below is a comparison of the Drought Monitor between September 1st 2019 and 2020. A large portion of the country remains in Severe to Extreme Drought compared to the same time in 2019.

Drought Monitor between September 1st 2019 and 2020

The Percent of Normal precipitation map for August 2020 shows that most of Iowa and northern Illinois observed 10-25% of the normal amount of rainfall. In addition the significant derecho has caused significant crop and infrastructure damage in Iowa. As mentioned in prior months if the dry conditions continued in Iowa yields would be impacted and we are seeing yields trending below the USDA averages in these areas of Severe and Extreme Drought.

Early yield forecasts from the USDA and CIBO both suggested higher yields across the country. While supply does affect commodity pricing, prices are more impacted by demand. The USDA is showing a rebound in pricing – especially soy-based on global demand. Commodity prices have seen a recent rally with renewed demand but regionalized effects may still be felt due to the one-two punch of drought and derecho. The local drought conditions and derecho-damaged infrastructure combined with higher than average yields in other, unaffected regions may make it tough for logistics, storage and operators in the hardest-hit drought and derecho affected regions. 

Lenders, underwriters, insurance adjusters, appraisers and managers should be proactive in outreach to their portfolio members to provide better customer service and prepare for next year. Farmers should be thinking now about cover-cropping for the winter and leaving biomass in place to help regenerate the soils and reduce erosion in preparation for 2021. 

Farmers who dodged the drought and derecho bullet are still predicted to bring in a bigger harvest. Transportation and storage suppliers in those regions should be planning now for how to handle the additional demands on capacity. These farmers can also be thinking ahead to the imminent harvest and planning their regenerative practices for the winter and start of the 2021 growing season.

August 2020 Monthly Percentage of Normal Percipitation

August 11, Update: Significant Derecho Event in Iowa, northern Illinois, and central Indiana will result in lower yields locally, regionally, and nationally.

Derecho 1

A large-widespread “wind-storm” known as a derecho impacted a large swath of the midwest on August 10, 2020. A derecho produces a swath of particularly damaging thunderstorm winds over an area at least 400 miles long and 60 miles wide. The August 10th event was over 770 miles long and lasted more than 14 hours. Derechos are primarily classified as straight-line winds rather than tornadic. Wind speeds in a derecho can exceed 100 mph which is equivalent to that of an EF1 tornado, but over a vastly larger area than a tornado would impact. Derechos develop in an environment with very warm and moist air at the surface, colder air aloft, and moderate to strong winds at upper levels of the atmosphere.

Derecho 2

The derecho event swept across major agricultural regions in Iowa, northern Illinois, and Indiana damaging not only crops but also grain storage facilities. This event will cause significant changes to local, regional, and national yield estimates. Initial estimates are this event could be a billion-dollar weather disaster from the grain side. The challenge will reemerge at harvest when farmers have to figure out where to put all this grain. Many storage facilities were damaged or destroyed.

As of this writing, an estimated 10 million acres were affected and 23 counties in Iowa have been declared disaster areas, with the list likely to grow. Affected Iowa counties are (so far) Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clarke, Clinton, Dallas, Greene, Grundy, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, Tama, and Washington.

Derecho 3  Derecho 4

CIBO’s current predictions do not account for this event. CIBO is actively working to refine and improve the estimates based on this widespread derecho event. Stay tuned for updates as more information becomes available.

August 1, 2020 Update: Rain for some areas, but continued drought for others.

The maps show the percent of normal rainfall for the month of July. There is good/news and bad news:

  • Good News: Several key growing regions observed above normal rainfall in July, especially in central Illinois and southern Indiana, as well as parts of the central Great Plains, resulting in nearly ideal growing conditions as most of the Corn Belt entered the grain filling stage.
  • Bad News: There were some dry spots too, especially western Iowa with regions only observing 10-25% of normal rainfall for the month of July. Therefore, despite adequate conditions in the early growing season, if the dry pattern continues into August, corn and soybean yields will be impacted by the lack of rainfall. Another drier location was West Texas with rainfall ~50% of the normal. We have seen lost cotton acres due to dry conditions with delayed planting and stunted germination even in irrigated locations.
August 2020

August Weather Trends 2020

July Update: What a difference a year makes!

The maps show the percent of normal rainfall for the months of May and June. In May and June of 2019, most of the country received significantly more rainfall than normal, in excess of 200 to 400% of normal. In comparison, May and June of 2020 have many areas that were below normal. The smaller amount of rainfall in June 2020 along with warmer temperatures, has fostered crop growth; however, if the lack of rainfall continues into July, yields could be impacted.

 

May

2019

May 2019

2020

May 2020

June

2019

June 2019

2020

June 2020

*The maps are sourced from the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS).

About the Author

Adam Pasch is a Principal Data Scientist in Meteorology at CIBO, a science-driven software startup. He is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist from the American Meteorological Society. Prior to CIBO, Dr. Pasch was the Weather Data Strategy and Operations Manager at The Climate Corporation and a Meteorologist Project Manager at Sonoma Technologies, Inc. He holds a Doctorate, Masters, and Bachelors of Science in Meteorology from Saint Louis University.

CIBO

CIBO

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