What a Winter El Nino Means for Agriculture

What a Winter El Nino Means for Agriculture

Lorrie Boyer
Lorrie Boyer
An El Nino weather pattern is expected to cover the United States this winter. USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey discusses how this weather pattern will translate to agricultural water supplies.

“Some of the biggest reservoirs, especially those in the Colorado River Basin in the Rio Grande remain critically low following a generation of drought going back 20 to 25 years or more.”

El Nino could mean drier than normal conditions in parts of the Pacific Northwest.

“We'll have to keep an eye on the Columbia River Basin and some of the smaller waterways in the Northwest for potential signs of developing drought or intensifying drought.”

Oftentimes, the attention turns to winter wheat anytime El Nino is talked about.

“El Nino often has a positive or a favorable impact on winter wheat. Now we do sometimes see warmer and drier than normal conditions in the northern production areas especially say Montana and into South Dakota. However, without the significant cold outbreaks that sometimes come with winter that often helps the winter wheat health even in the absence of significant snowfall. And then further south you get into the more highly concentrated production areas of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. El Nino often leads to a wetter than normal winter and that is typically positive for winter wheat outcomes. And so overall, the El Nino prospects for winter wheat tends to be favorable for the United States.”

USDA Meteorologist, Brad Rippey.

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