La Niña Is Back—What That Means for North and South American Crops

19 October 2021

La Niña is back for a second year in a row, creating potentially big ramifications for 2022 crops around the world. 

The US Climate Prediction Center warned in August of a possible return appearance of the global climate event. Now La Niña has officially arrived and the center gives it an 87% chance of continuing into the Southern Hemisphere summer. The Multivariate ENSO Index currently shows a negative value, indicating La Niña conditions. 

That could signal trouble for Argentina’s corn and soybean crops, and the livestock producers that rely on those crops for feed. Argentina is the world's third-largest corn supplier and the No. 1 exporter of soybean meal, used for livestock feed. When a similar back-to-back La Niña occurred in 2011 and 2012, Argentine corn yields dropped about 20% each year, while soybean yields fell 8% in the first year and 19% a year later. 

Argentina’s corn sowing started in early September. A first soybean crop is planted beginning in October and another starting in January. To track La Niña’s impact, follow Gro’s Argentina Soybeans Monitor and Argentina Corn Monitor displays for growing conditions, balance sheet information, and Gro’s yield forecasts. Note how much of Argentina is already in some stage of drought on the Gro Drought Index. 

It’s important to remember that La Niña doesn’t guarantee a weather outcome, but instead increases the chances of certain trends occurring. 

In Brazil, La Niña could bring extra rain to northern areas this summer. Last year, Brazil produced a record soybean crop, despite planting and harvest delays because of excess rain. But the delays caused corn to be planted late, and Brazil’s corn yields dropped sharply as drought conditions took hold. 

In the US, La Niña winters tend to bring drier-than-normal conditions across Sunbelt regions, including southern parts of Texas, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and California, where drought this year has been at its worst level since 2014, as shown by the Gro Drought Index. La Niña also tends to bring wetter-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and in parts of the Northern Plains, Ohio Valley, and the Great Lakes.

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