Damn Glad It’s Getting Warmer! Favorable Climate Change in North Dakota Encourages Increased Corn Plantings

by Joel Karlin –

Now all we need is some good ol’ GM seeds, and were good to go!

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A recent article notes that long-term warming trends, improved seed genetics, and favorable returns per acre has led to a corn boom in the Northern Plains, specifically North and South Dakota.

We have commented quite frequently in this blog on how U.S. planted acreage has migrated west and north over the past number of years, away from the traditional “I” states of Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

We have postulated that the reason this is so are superior profits per acre planting corn as opposed to some of the more traditional crops that have been grown in this region of the country such as hard red spring and durum wheat, sunflowers, rapeseed, and various minor grains and oilseeds.

Certainly new hybrids that can tolerate the generally cooler and drier conditions in that part of the nation have played a part with more favorable weather seen in the Dakotas than in other areas also boosting their corn yields on a relative basis.

We were particularly interest in the observation that North Dakota has seen a climate that has become more hospitable to warm season crops like corn and soybeans.

The article noted that average temperatures in ND have been rising for decades expanding the states growing season by 12 days over the past century.

There also appears to be an increase in annual precipitation that resulted in the average annual precipitation in the 1990’s and 2000’s being 17.5% and 12.5% higher respectively than what was seen in the 1980’s.

We decided to do our own analysis looking at NOAA records going back to 1895.

Average annual total precipitation in inches and average annual temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit were measured by decades from 1900 to 2010 with a trend of each also plotted in the accompanying graphic.

We also added the 2011 and 2012 figures for comparison.

The graphic does show that North Dakota average temperatures and precipitation has increased over the past 100 years as evidenced by a rising trend.

Still, this state is not isolated from the prevailing weather patterns that influence the midsection of the country as reflected in the 2012 figures of very high temperatures and below normal precipitation.

It does appear that if weather patterns are changing, it will only accentuate the cropping pattern change seen in the Northern Plains that is also being spurred by favorable economics.

(KA)

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