While it’s hard to predict if the drought will continue this year, one expert says the probability is very high that U.S. grain production in 2013 will be below normal. Iowa State University climatologist Elwynn Taylor says 2012 saw one of the worst droughts in history and the effects usually linger into the following growing season.
“These strong drought years are usually more than one-year events,” Taylor says. “Even though we only officially get a drought one year, we’re seldom out of it in the second year.” Even with normal rainfall during the 2013 growing season, Taylor says the odds favor below-trend-line yields because of below-average soil moisture levels.
“It’s about 70 to 75%, not necessarily a drought but still below-average yield,” Taylor says. “The drought is when you’re a full 10% below your average yield. It’s seldom that we have two drought years in a row but quite often we’ll have two or three and sometimes four lower-than-average yields.”
Taylor says the subsoil has been depleted beyond five feet in much of the corn belt. He says it will take at least 10 inches of rain just to recharge the soil profile which is difficult in the winter months. One report indicated it would take eight feet of snow this winter to make up for the precipitation we lacked last year.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton