Predictions of a mild, wet summer could mean higher yields for Missouri farmers | St. Louis Public Radio

Predictions of a mild, wet summer could mean higher yields for Missouri farmers

Apr 10, 2017

Missouri corn and soybean farmers may see higher yields this year, as scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbia forecast mild weather and moderate rainfall this summer. 

Meteorological records show that dry, mild winters typically are followed by average to slightly more than average rainfall in the spring and summer. 

"The reason why that would be is just a switch in the jet stream pattern and now is the time of the year when we expect there to be wetter conditions in April and May," said Tony Lupo, a professor of atmospheric science at Mizzou. 

That could translate into a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in corn and soybean yields, according to Lupo's research. However, data he collected for a study published last fall showed that yields are expected to be slightly lower for farmers in southeast Missouri. The reason why the data projected that is unknown. 

This map by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the predicted mild temperatures across the Midwest this summer.
Credit University of Missouri News Bureau

Weather forecasters also project that El Niño, or the warming of eastern Pacific Ocean, is returning again this year, which also could be responsible for the moderate weather expected this summer.

Following an El Niño effect last year, forecasters expected to see La Niña, the cooling of Pacific Ocean, occur this year, Lupo said, but that didn’t occur. He and his colleagues are studying what triggers such patterns, which remain mysterious to meteorologists.

While moderate rainfall is good for crops, the amount of rain isn't the only factor that matters when it comes to yields. For example, too much rain at the wrong time can interfere with some crops, such as hay

"The timing of the precipitation is important, not just the quantity," Lupo said. "Of course, in our forecast, we can't speak to the timing." 

Follow Eli Chen on Twitter: @StoriesByEli