March 04, 2024

El Niño can impact crop production

Farmers see mild December in Midwest

El Niño can affect the weather in the United States, which in turns affects U.S. agriculture.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — This year, El Niño afforded growers throughout the Midwest a milder December, providing more time for late fall fertilizer applications and cover crop planting.

On the downside, mild weather can lead to more winter annual weeds.

“Mild weather can bring with it the perfect conditions for some of these winter annuals to grow fast and reduce yield in cover cropping systems,” said Jonathan Rotz, Pioneer field agronomist.

What Is El Niño ?

The El Niño Southern Oscillation is a natural cycle involving interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere that affects atmospheric circulation and weather patterns globally.

El Niño typically peaks in late fall or early winter. It is not strongly predictive of crop yields, but it can affect the weather.

Winter and early spring weather from El Niño can also affect summer growing conditions.

For example, the soil water profile following drought conditions and the survival rate of overwintering insects are both factors that are affected by temperature and precipitation patterns during the winter.

However, temperature and precipitation during the summer months — which are the greatest drivers of yield — are not as directly and consistently affected, according to agronomists at Pioneer.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor