Latest Weather Outlooks and NAFTA Update - Friday, 20 April 2018

Update for April 20th, 2018


The exceptionally cold spring has producers and analysts wondering what to expect as we move into May.  Meteorologists predict that this cold spell should end before May 1st but there is rising concern that damage to yields may already be done by that point.  Chip Flory of Pro Farmers and host of Agri-Talk “After the Bell” interviewed Mike Tannura of T-Storm Weather regarding his research that shows a strong association between significantly cold temps in April and below trend-line yield results.  He told Flory that, “Based on data we’re looking at today, there’s a chance it could be the coldest of the entire period going back to 1895.” He explained that if you take corn performance data from the 20 coldest years since 1895 and compare it with corn performance since 1960 you will find a link between cold April temps and smaller yields. He uses the year 1960 because hybrid technology was so different prior to then and 7 of the coldest 20 have occurred since that year.  Out of those 7 years, six of them produced below trend line yields. He also pointed out that while the weather in April is typically not a major contributor to final production but a cold April that leads to later planting of the corn crop is.

The extremely cold temps in April have some wondering if this is an indication to expect more weather extremes during the growing season. Some recent outlooks are telling us we could have an extremely hot period in either June or July. This is an important scenario when you consider a lower USDA corn acreage of 88 million acres, a possible jump in preventive plant acres and the prospect of the late planting pushing pollination into a period of extreme heat.  All things to be aware of and watch for as we move forward.


The latest USDA Corn Planted report this week shows what we already knew, planting progress is way behind average and the problem is wide-spread.


  • Illinois 0% planted vs 5% average
  • Indiana 0% planted vs 1% average
  • Iowa 0% planted vs 3% average
  • Kansas 6% planted vs 15% average
  • Minnesota 0% planted vs 3% average
  • Missouri 4% planted vs 18% average
  • Nebraska 1% planted vs 2% average
  • South Dakota 0% planted vs 1% average
  • Texas only state running ahead of average pace with 60% planted vs 54% average.




Bloomberg News ran a story this week titled, “NAFTA has “absolute support” of Mexican presidential frontrunner”. Leading presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stated that he would actually prefer to redo NAFTA himself but knows that there are benefits to a rapid end to discussions.  Elections in Mexico will be held July 1st and an agreement on NAFTA prior to that would help prevent markets in that country from becoming nervous while dealing with a presidential election at the same time.


President Trump has been urging negotiators to come to an agreement soon. Talks are continuing in Washington this week, leaders from all three countries say a deal could be completed within weeks and negotiators are hoping to keep working until an accord can be reached.

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China is planning to implement the world’s largest single weather changing system ever attempted to ensure ideal growing conditions. Once that system is completed and in place it will have the capacity to increase rainfall by up to 25 trillion gallons per season in the region. “The system is created from a network of solid fuel burning chambers that produce silver iodide, a compound with a structure much like ice that can be used in cloud seeding.” Their hope is to intercept Indian Monsoon rain clouds as they move across the country which, if successful will help solve China’s critical water shortage problem.



China has also been in the news a lot this week regarding the steep tariffs placed on U.S. sorghum.  These particular tariffs have been in the works for some time now and are not a result of the recent trade disputes.  The 179% tariffs has raised the cost of sorghum to Chinese buyers to almost $11.00 per bushel.  This is almost double the cost of Chinese processors purchasing the bushels from their wn governments reserve. Our concern is what these tariffs could mean to our market here in the U.S.  China has purchased 180 million bushels of U.S. sorghum each year, without this outlet these bushels may be used in place of corn for feed and ethanol manufacturing.  While the total amount is not overly large it would add bushels to the current abundant corn supply.


As of April 9th the soil temperatures in North-Central Iowa have never been colder in the last 20 years than they are right now.  You can see from the soil temp maps below, one from yesterday and one from today that the temps are slowly starting to improve.



Snow depths following the weekend storm totaled over 20 inches in parts of the Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes.  While a lot of this snow had begun to melt early in the week the storm received Wednesday delivered several more inches to many of the same regions. A large portion of the Delta also received precipitation over the past weekend with localized totals topping 6 inches in some areas.

Thankfully there is a change on the way in the long-range 8-14 day outlook.  The latest update shown below predict normal chances for precipitation along with moderating temps across most of the Midwest for the rest of April.  A planting window is expected towards the end of the month if the forecasts hold true.


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