Workshops, weather, and what’s coming up with Eric Snodgrass.

Given Eric Snodgrass’ extensive experience as a global weather expert, he was a perfect fit to speak at the recent InfoAg conference. As Principal Atmospheric Scientist at Agrible, Eric provides weather forecast solutions for global agriculture, which give ag users insights to make operational decisions weeks in advance. Eric held a workshop called, “Weather Data & Tools, Growing Season Weather Risks in Agriculture.” We wanted to hear more about this workshop and sat down with Eric to hear his thoughts.

Agrible:
You recently spoke at the InfoAg conference in St. Louis, what was the topic of your session?

Snodgrass:
Unlike the last 3 years, identifying a large "garden spot" in the Corn Belt was a bit more challenging. Regional drought in the Dakotas and Iowa, heat stress in Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas, flooding in Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, and ubiquitous severe weather kept crop condition reports below the values we saw in 2014-2016. My talk focused on US yield projections for corn and soybeans by examining the impacts of weather. The message was clear—there was too much adverse weather across the nation's most productive ground to have another year of significantly above trend yields. We examined the relationships between US weather patterns and 70 years of yield data to determine the most important factors to watch out for during the growing season. We discussed strategies and techniques to monitor the impact of weather on agriculture, and showcased Agrible's product suite as a resource for monitoring this impact on a local, regional, and global scale. 

Agrible:
At the time of the conference, EPA stated the following number of dicamba drift complaints have come in for these states: IL had 150, Indiana had 96, IA had 74, MO had 240. Was dicamba drift a hot topic at the InfoAg conference?

Snodgrass:
Surprisingly, no one discussed this with me. My guess is that since there were very few producers there, the topic was not a major discussion point. InfoAg is really just a conference for tech companies. It's a meeting of tech companies where everyone gets to see what everyone else is doing.

Agrible:
You have been doing a lot of long term forecasts in your Agrible Ag Forecast updates, how do you see the rest of this growing season shaping up? Any harvest problems anticipated due to weather?

Snodgrass:
August 2017 has kicked off the end of the growing season with cooler than average weather. This has prevented significant crop stress in regions that have also been dry for the first half of the month. As we look toward harvest, it is important to know that there is no correlation between a cool start to August and an early frost threat. Long range forecast guidance keeps sustained above average temperatures out of the picture through mid-September. That is not to say there won't be stretches of above average temperatures—it simply means that the jet stream is active enough that frequent upper level troughs will move through the Corn Belt, preventing multiple-day stretches of heat stress. When it comes to precipitation, the next 30 days have a slight wet bias for the central states, but there is a very low probability that August 2017 will be as wet as August 2016. Last year's very wet August sent bean yields to record highs. One wildcard in the long range forecast will come from the potential for tropical cyclone development in the Gulf of Mexico. The ocean temperatures and wind shear in the Gulf are primed for tropical cyclone development should a tropical system enter these waters. The threat would be for one of these systems to track north through the lower Mississippi River Valley and bring heavy rains to the Corn Belt. We will be watching this very closely over the next 2 months. Finally, looking toward winter, the lack of El Niño or La Niña adds a level of uncertainty to our winter forecast. Neutral weather conditions in the equatorial Pacific, where El Niño events occur, are weakly correlated with cooler than average winter temperatures across the Corn Belt. This means we will have to watch how the jet stream establishes itself later this fall to get a better handle on our winter weather patterns.