KANSAS CITY — Summer is already over in the Northern Hemisphere and what a season it was this year. The greatest worry over dryness was in North America, but it turned out that Europe was driest and lost the most crop yield. The new season should start off drier biased in North America, but trend a little wetter in Europe. Despite those trends and concern over China’s Yangtze River Basin drought, the real focal point of the futures market may soon turn to South America. Center west and center south Brazil along with parts of Argentina will begin the new growing season where they left off — with moisture deficits prevailing and worry over yet another La Niña influenced spring.

This year marks the third spring in a row in which La Niña has prevailed. The spring of 2020 was probably the hardest on crops and farmers because of the notable delay in seasonal rains that occurred that year. Some planting of spring crops, like corn and soybeans, was delayed until November and some of the crop that was planted in late September and early October struggled for many weeks because of limited rainfall and poor soil moisture.

Spring 2021 precipitation was also lighter than usual at times, but Brazil was not nearly as chronically dry as it was in 2020, and crops got planted more normally and got started in a more favorable manner. Production issues did evolve, though with southern parts of Brazil and Paraguay trending drier than usual starting in November, with December through February drier than usual impacting yield potentials for many southern crops while rainfall in center west and center south increased above normal. Most of the soybean crop yielded well, but some corn production was cut, but the biggest loss occurred to Safrinha corn and cotton when seasonal rainfall dropped off earlier than usual in March and April leaving moisture deficits for reproduction.

Those moisture deficits that accumulated in the first few months of 2022 have not gone away. Seasonal drying kicked in during April and May and rainfall has been lacking ever since then in center west and some center south and northeastern crop areas. Those moisture deficits along with some others that are present in parts of Argentina will fuel much debate and worry over 2022-23 coarse grain and oilseed production.

La Niña events often cheat Brazil and parts of Argentina from “normal” rainfall. Quite often seasonal rains begin late and are erratic, leaving some areas a little too dry for ideal early-season crop emergence and establishment. If this year’s early season rainfall performs in a similar manner there could be a greater impact since moisture deficits in some center west and center crop areas are still present and impressive.

Southern Brazil and eastern Argentina rainfall during the winter of 2022 was sufficient to bolster soil moisture so that the start of spring fieldwork in those areas this year will begin favorably. There will be some concern over center west and center south initial rains this year since La Niña may reduce some of the precipitation and there will be no opportunity for last summer and autumn’s moisture deficits to be made up. That suggests a possible rough start to the growing season. Any serious delay to seasonal rainfall in Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Sáo Paulo and Goias will raise market worry over crop planting, emergence and establishment.

In the meantime, western Argentina is expected to come into spring drier biased with a low potential for improved rainfall until late September and early October. World Weather, Inc. believes that September rainfall in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will be largely near normal along with that of far southern Brazil. That should lead to some relatively normal planting in South America. October poses as the potential problem month.

Persistent La Niña is expected to inhibit rainfall across eastern Argentina, southern and central Brazil. Many areas may experience a below-normal precipitation bias delaying some of the corn and soybean planting and more importantly leaving some crops a little poorly established and poised for possible development potential if November rainfall does not kick in significantly.

November and December rainfall should be largely dependent on the behavior of La Niña. By December, this La Niña event will be 29 months old with the exception of a couple of months in 2021 in which La Niña briefly diminished. Most La Niña events associated with this particular solar cycle occurred for no less than 29 months and the event of the middle 1970s lasted 36 months.

Original forecasts were implying that La Niña would dissipate very quickly in the last weeks of this year, but some lingering impacts could continue into January and February.  In the past, prolonged La Niña events usually dissipate relatively quickly, but a few months of transition will be needed before anomalous upper air wind flow patterns return to normal. That raises much concern weather conditions in 2022-23. If La Niña prevails through the first quarter of 2023 there will be some greater concern over production totals for this year. If, however, La Niña dissipates in December and January seasonal rainfall likely will resume to a generally normal pattern relatively quickly. That suggests October will be the most stressful month for crop development due to dryness and poorly distributed rainfall.

In the meantime, moisture deficits and influence from La Niña also will continue to influence other areas in the world. US hard red winter wheat production areas may see an erratic rainfall pattern during the autumn planting season. Russia also may see some erratic precipitation and Russia will be facing a cold winter. China is expected to get its planting done swiftly this year and India likely will seed a good wheat crop as well. Australia will be closely monitored because of its potential for what will look like an ideal wheat, barley and canola crop initially could be negatively impacted by too much mid- to late spring rainfall hurting crop quality and possibly cutting into some production.