As US soybean farmers sit on a hill of beans, Brazil appears to be starting a banner soybean growing season- thanks to favorable weather patterns. That could get even better for Brazil, as it’s anticipated to be an El Niño year. Read on to hear the current El Niño forecast for 2019, how it’s affecting soybean crops in Brazil, and why this is all pretty good news for China.
El Nino Ahead
DTN’s Senior Meteorologist Bryce Anderson has revealed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) forecast for this upcoming winter. El Niño conditions are very likely. This weather prediction by the CPC is somewhat in contrast to DTN’s own in-house forecast, which anticipates much weaker El Niño effects. This prediction appears to be in-step with forecasts from the United Kingdom and European weather centers.
The CPC’s forecast says that all four of the El Niño regions showed increased sea surface temperature anomalies during the month of October. These readings, averaged across 180 to 100 West Longitude, continued due to consistently above average temperatures at depth across the eastern half of the Pacific Ocean near the equator. The CPS predicts that there is an 80% chance that El Niño will form for the 2018-19 winter, and a 55-60% chance that it will last into spring.
Disagreement on El Niño Severity
The atmospheric portion of El Niño has not yet fully coincided with the increased sea surface and sub surface temperatures. This appears to be the point where some of the different weather predictions split. CPC is forecasting that the atmospheric pattern will eventually match up with the increased ocean temperatures, despite the somewhat neutral atmospheric conditions.
Atmospheric convection (cloud and thunderstorm development) remained slightly suppressed near the Date Line and over Indonesia,” the briefing said. “Low-level westerly wind anomalies were observed over the eastern Pacific during October, while weak upper-level westerly wind anomalies were present over the far western Pacific. The traditional and equatorial Southern Oscillation indices (SOI) were near zero. Despite the above-average ocean temperatures across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, the overall coupled ocean-atmosphere system continued to reflect ENSO-neutral.
The CPC models are predicting a Nino 3.4 index of +0.5 degrees Celsius or greater to continue through to Spring of 2019. The official forecast says that El Niño will be fairly weak, but that ocean and atmospheric temperatures will eventually line up.
It appears that the El Niño phenomenon is pretty likely this year, but that the weather predictions differ in levels of severity. It all depends on what happens with the ocean and atmospheric temperatures.
El Niño Good News For China
In the US, El Niño years typically bring more unpredictable weather patterns. According to an article by Fabinana Batista of Bloomberg News that was recently published by Ag Update, an El Niño weather pattern this winter may favor China more in the trade war.
Below are the basics of her argument.
Batista says that as things are looking right now, the El Niño weather pattern will allow Brazil to supply more soybeans than normal for China during the month of January. In Mato Grosso, Brazil- the nation’s highest producing soybean state- early planting conditions were favorable. The later half of December is also predicted to be less rainy due to the El Niño effect, which bodes well for their early harvest crops.
Brazil Soybean Outlook Good
More sunny days during December through February means that parts of Brazil can successfully plant second crops.
This isn’t great news for US soybean farmers that are sitting on a hill of beans. As the trade tensions between the US and China grew over the first nine months of 2018, Brazil shipped 15 percent more soybeans to China than the country did over the entire year of 2017.
So, Brazil is getting a good start on soybeans for 2018. Combine that with overall improved efficiency and seeding pace at record levels, and some there are optimistic that Brazil will see above-average volumes harvested.
Of course many US soybean farmers were hoping that Brazil wouldn’t be able to swoop in and easily replace the Chinese soybean imports no longer coming from the US. The likely El Niño forecast through the spring of 2019, right now, appears to be working in Brazil’s favor to do just that.
Read more about the “Unpredictable Soybean Markets” from Ag Nook.