What to expect as corn yields face a third straight La Niña • farmdoc daily

Meteorologists predict a third consecutive year of La Niña. The occurrence of two successive La Niña winters in the Northern Hemisphere is common, however, having three in a row is relatively rare. A triple La Niña has only happened twice since 1950. The last time La Niña was in place for three consecutive years was from 1999 to 2001. But what could that mean for the maize production in Brazil, the United States and Argentina? In the previous article, we presented descriptive analyzes of deviations from the trend line in soybean yields over the past 30 years (see farmdoc daily, May 23, 2022). In this article, we have done the same analysis to assess maize yields in the aforementioned countries. La Niña is expected to weaken but persist through the Northern Hemisphere summer and into early winter 2022-23.

ENSO Forecast

La Niña and El Niño are phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that typically occur every two to seven years, with neutral years in between. La Niña tends to bring dry, dry conditions to many parts of the world, including southern Brazil, Argentina, and the United States, while bringing additional rainfall to other areas, such as in northern Brazil. Current dry conditions in the United States, for example, may reduce the productive potential of summer crops planted this year.

The Pacific Ocean has been in the La Niña phase for two years. The first occurred from late August 2020 to April 2021. It was followed by the current La Niña, which started in August 2021 and is still ongoing. La Niña is favored to continue in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of the summer (52% chance in July-September 2022, according to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC/IRI) Official Probabilistic El Niño-Southern Oscillation Outlook, July 5 2022.

U.S. Corn Yields

In 2021, corn yield in the United States was 177 bushels per acre, a record yield 5.6 bushels higher than the 2022 yield, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). During the harvests of the last two episodes of La Nina in the 2020 and 2021 crop years, corn yields were 3.2 bushels per acre (-2%) below the trend line and 0.35 bushels respectively. per acre (0.2%) above trend (see last two blues). points in figure 1). And the last time three consecutive La Niñas occurred (1999-2000-2001), yields were right on the trendline.

Figure 1 shows a slight relationship between ENSO phases and corn yield levels in the United States, with most yields in El Niño years (red dots) above the trend line. If we focus on the extreme values ​​(residual standard deviation from the trend line greater than one), note that all four very high yield levels occurred during El Niño agricultural years (see the red dots on the figure 1) and none during a La Niña year. Additionally, two very low yield levels occurred in neutral years (1993 and 2012) and only one in a La Niña year (1995).

Maize yields in Brazil

In Brazil, with 28% of the second crop maize (safrinha) acreage harvested by the first week of July, total production is expected to hit a record 4.55 billion bushels, according to the National Supply Company. (Conab). That production is 33% higher than last season’s 3.43 billion bushels, when Brazil was hit by a severe drought. The expected yield is 85 bushels per acre, 22% more than last season. Along with expected good yields, despite less than ideal weather, an 8.6% increase in sown area is another factor that will help Brazil break records with this season’s production. The safrinha harvest started in June and will continue until September (see farmdoc dailyJune 15, 2022).

Brazil has had very different maize yield outcomes over the past two La Niña years (see the last two blue dots in Figure 2). While in 2020/21 yields were 17 bushels per acre below trend (-20%), in the current 2021/22 season the average corn yield was 2 bushels per acre below trend (-2%). This disparity can be explained by the climatic differences within Brazil and the wide distribution of the first and second corn crops. Therefore, depending on when La Niña is present and the strength of the phenomenon, yield declines in drought-affected states may be offset by gains in other states. More than 70% of the corn produced in Brazil comes from safrinha, planted mainly in the Midwest and Northeast – where La Niña events favor increased rains. On the other hand, first crop corn is grown mainly in southern states, where La Niña events tend to reduce rainfall. Also, the season for the first and second harvest of maize is different.

In summary, Figure 2 shows the relationship between ENSO phases and corn yield levels. Note that two of the six extremely high yield levels (residual standard deviation from the trend line greater than one) occurred in La Niña crop years, two in El Niño crop years, and two in neutral years. In addition, two out of four very low yield levels occurred in La Niña agricultural years and two in El Niño years. Therefore, it is not possible to see a relationship between La Niña episodes and maize yield levels in Brazil.

Maize yields in Argentina

With 78% of 2021/22 corn harvested by July 7, according to Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAGyP), production estimates are 1.93 billion bushels, according to the Bolsa de Cereales of Buenos Aires. The estimated yield is 13% lower than the previous harvest due to severe drought during the summer.

In the previous harvest under La Niña conditions, corn yields were 2.8 bushels per acre (-2%) below the trend line, and current harvest yields in a second La Niña straight, are 17.5 bushels per acre (-14%) below trend. (see the last two blue dots in Figure 3). During these two agricultural seasons, precipitation was below average at the beginning of the summer in the Argentine Pampas (states of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Entre Rios, La Pampa and Santa Fé), which provides 80% of the maize production in the country.

Figure 3 shows a relationship between ENSO phases and maize yield levels in Argentina. The majority of returns in El Niño years (red dots) are above the trend line and the majority of returns in La Niña years (blue dots) are below the trend line. This pattern reflects the relationship reported in different studies (Iizumi et al., 2014; see daily farmdocDecember 17, 2020): the negative effect of La Niña and the positive effect of El Niño on maize yields in Argentina.

If we focus on the extreme values ​​(residual standard deviation from the trend line greater than one), note that all of the very high yield levels occurred during El Niño campaigns (red dots). In addition, all of the low yield levels occurred in La Niña harvest years (blue dots). These data suggest a very low probability of having very high yields in La Niña years and very low yields in El Niño years. Also note that in four out of two consecutive La Nina events, corn yields have a negative standard deviation greater than one. However, the last time three consecutive La Niña episodes occurred (1999-2000-2001), yields were right on the trend line.

conclusion

This report analyzes the relationship between maize yields and ENSO phases from 1992 to 2022 for the United States, Brazil and Argentina. Maize yields in recent harvest years, under both La Niña conditions, show different results between countries and harvest years. The yield was 2% below the trend line in Brazil for the current crop and 20% below the trend line for the previous one. In Argentina, returns were below expected values ​​for both years (-2% and -14%) and in the US -2% below trend in 2020 and 0.2% above the line. trend in 2021.

Over the past 30 years, data show a strong relationship between ENSO episodes and maize yield levels in Argentina, a very weak relationship in the United States, and no relationship in Brazil. It is important to note that each La Niña event will have different outcomes, therefore they will benefit some agricultural producers while harming others.

Data source and references

Bolsa de Cereales de Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2022. Agricultural estimates. https://www.bolsadecereales.com/estimaciones-informes

Cabrini, S., J. Colussi and G. Schnitkey. “Third consecutive La Niña? What to expect from soybean yields in the United States, Brazil and Argentina. » daily farmdoc (12):75, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 23 May 2022.

Colussi, J., G. Schnitkey and C. Zulauf. “Brazil expects historic Safrinha despite less than ideal weather.” daily farmdoc (12):90, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2022 Jun 15.

Conab, National Supply Company. “Monitoring the Brazilian cereal harvest.” Brasília, DF, c. 9, agricultural campaign 2021/22, n.10, July 2022. Available in https://www.conab.gov.br/info-agro/safras/graos/boletim-da-safra-de-graos

Agricultural Estimates. Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca, Argentina. https://www.magyp.gob.ar/sitio/areas/estimaciones/_archivos/estimaciones/220000_2022/220700_Julio/220707_Informe%20Semanal%20al%2007-07-2022.pdf

Iizumi, T., Luo, JJ, Challinor, AJ, Sakurai, G., Yokozawa, M., Sakuma, H., … Yamagata, T. (2014). Impacts of the El Niño Southern Oscillation on World Major Crop Yields. Nature Communication, 5(May), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms4712

Irwin, S. “The Impact of Preseason La Niña Episodes on Corn and Soybean Yields in Brazil and Argentina.” daily farmdoc (10):213, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 17 Dec 2020.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration United States Department of Commerce (NOAA). Climate Prediction Center (CPC). https://origin.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ONI_v5.php

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