What Will the Weather Bring This Summer for Farmers?

While the United States has remained in the grip of dry, cool weather that affected winter wheat quality, we have to turn our attention up to the Great White North to the forecast for this summer.

As we steamroll to the end of May, many analysts anticipate that the coming weeks will offer a prediction of what temperatures will arrive all summer.

Comparisons have been drawn to weather in 2008 and 2017.

But Drew Lerner of World Weather has a beat on historical patterns and probabilities based on recent weather patterns. He says that we’re going to have a summer that resembles patterns not seen since 1936.

But he’s not the only one making interesting projections about the weather.

Let’s take a look at what analysts are saying about crop conditions and the weather.

Then we’ll give you additional insight on how to manage your grain heading into the summer.

Why 1936?

Drew Lerner recently jumped on RealAg Radio, and he had a pretty interesting warning about the state of dry areas across the country.[1]

Lerner based his comparison to 1936, a year of historic heat and dryness, due to one key factor.

The solar cycle.

According to Lerner, the solar will reduce the heat over on the eastern side of the continent.

1936 saw the eastern side of North America hit by cooler, wetter weather. Lerner says that rains this year will reduce the amount of dryness across that part of the continent.

However, that cycle will heat up and dry up a large swath of North America. Large portions of North America are already dry, and similar conditions to 1936 would be possible if rains do not appear in the coming weeks.

Ontario and Quebec

Lerner expects that cool temperatures will impact crop maturity and evaporation rates typically needed to maximize dryness efficiency. Lerner suggests that there will be “an ongoing discussion about the coolness this year.”

In the Prairies, Lerner has raised concerns about rainfall in Alberta. The basic expectation is that farmers are constantly praying for a drink and that we’ll be tracking days out for any sign of rain. If this is true, it will feed a significant amount of speculation at the Grain Exchange. Concerns about the spring wheat crop have already mounted due to delays in planting.

A lack of moisture events will present a lot of opportunities for farmers to find premiums at opportune times.

We’ll be monitoring the markets for these types of premiums for our GrainCents subscribers, who receive crop by crop recommendations on when to hold and when to sell. Sign up for a free 3-week trial of GrainCents today for any (or all!) 12 crops that we cover, including durum and spring wheat.

But Alberta isn’t the only portion of central Canada that is facing weather woes.

DTN’s Joel Burgio recently stated that dryness in Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan has been a concern. While rainfall is expected this weekend, rain is still below normal rainfall patterns custom for this period of the year.

But that is understating the issue for certain parts of central Canada. Environment Canada recently stated that the past five months have been the driest winter and spring in seven decades.

Which is why Lerner’s projection of 1936-style drought isn’t that far off. And it should be a concern moving forward, especially in the wake of last summer’s dryness. Last summer, Environment Canada reported that July 2017 was the driest month ever recorded in 130 years in Regina, Saskatchewan. [2]

Farmers are set to seed fewer canola and soybeans in favor of wheat this year in Saskatchewan, according to recent data from Statistics Canada. That ongoing dryness across Canada has led to additional switching from canola, meaning we could see some additional changes in future reports. [3]

David Phillips of Environment Canada has been tracking portions of the province. Areas like Regina, which usually get about 75 millimeters (2.96 inches) of rain over the first five months of 2018 have gotten less than 7 millimeters (0.27 inches).

The recent long weekend was problematic for Phillips because he was hoping to see an uptick in participation. Farmers have to be increasingly nervous as seeding continues. Last year’s dry spell wasn’t as bad due to decent soil moisture. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case this year.

What to Do Right Now

There are five major things to remember as we continue into planting.

First, stay safe. Dry, hot weather could create wildfires similar to what we saw last summer. Have a fire extinguisher on the tractor or in the truck, and make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings at all times.

Second, if you’re working with cattle, pay very close attention to sulphate concentrations in the water. Evaporation can lead to very high levels of sulphate, and levels over 3,000 parts per liter are acutely toxic.

Third, on your grain, remember that if we face a tighter market for certain crops, you’ll need to know every single characteristic possible about your grain. With buyers facing explicit quotas on quality, having those characteristics on paper when negotiating is critical. Be sure to use our network of grain testing facilities through GrainTests.com.

Fourth, as mentioned, be in the know of what’s going in the markets by reading the daily Breakfast Brief and/or Grain Markets Today columns on the FarmLead website.

Finally, know exactly when you should be selling your grain by signing up for GrainCents. Don’t be the farmer who didn’t sell on the way up and didn’t want to sell on the way done so just ended up selling at harvest. GrainCents will make you better than that.

About the Author
Garrett Baldwin

Garrett Baldwin is a content strategist and editor at FarmLead. He covers the global grain markets and public policy issues related to the agricultural industry. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Economic Policy from The Johns Hopkins University, an MS in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University.

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