I wrote an item in May of 2014 that outlined how El Nino spring and summers impact the corn crop and potential harvest. I am going to sample some of that item for this piece, as El Nino is back on the menu for this spring and summer…at least according to the experts, who were certain last year was going to be an El Nino year.
From last May’s item:
Here are some interesting charts I came across courtesy of my friends at Freese-Notis. The first graph shows the highest corn yield years since 1980..and the four most recent years on the chart, all on the right, were El Nino years.
This next chart also shows the corn harvest averages for El Nino years, La Nina years and neutral years:
OK, back to the present. El Nino years can lead to bumper crops for a few reasons. The first is adequate rainfall and the second is cooler than normal temps across the corn belt means less stress on the plant. How a bumper crop can lead to a ‘bumper’ corn drying season is a very rainy April and early May, which pushes planting season back which means the harvest gets pushed back. That is when we have seen some of our best years pursuant to considerable to extreme grain drying demand.
We did experience ‘El Nino-like’ conditions last spring and summer across the corn belt, even though we didn’t technically have an El Nino year. The plant was late, the harvest was late, but we had a very dry back-end of September and early October which really dried the crop down, so we didn’t have record-setting demand for grain drying.
We did have a record corn crop, however, at 171 bushels per acre.
A great corn crop requires water; it takes nearly 600,000 gallons per acre for each growing season, or 4,000 gallons per bushel of harvested corn. This amounts to between 20 and 25 inches of water. As an interesting aside, corn actually ‘gives off’ more water to the atmosphere than it consumes from the ground via evapotranspiration. When I have explained to folks that the most humid days of my life were spent surrounded by corn fields growing up in Iowa, they don’t believe it.
The best case scenario is an El Nino Spring and summer and then to see the El Nino disappear or be a Modoki El Nino, which is akin to what we had last year. We don’t want a full-fledged El Nino to last into the winter because that means above normal winter temps.
PROPANE INVENTORIES BUILD: Click on that link for our report on this week’s EIA information; another build in crude and propane.