Weather out west may affect crops here

Weather out west may impact crops here

Itâ??s almost 2,000 miles away, but temperatures in the Pacific Ocean may impact crops here in the Heartland.

Itâ??s all because of the weather patterns known as El Niño and La Niña. The transition to El Niño years gives way to milder summers with more regular rainfall throughout the Midwest. With La Niña, hot summers and irregular rainfall are more common, which was the case during the drought of 2012. All this can affect crop yields which, in turn, could raise prices.

â??Our research in looking at agricultural crops and El Niño La Niña cycles is quite simple," said Professor Anthony Lupo of the University of Missouri. "Weâ??re looking at corn, wheat and soybeans. All of these crops show some susceptibility to drought but corn being the most because of its shallower root system.â??

Researchers have begun linking the El Niño and La Niña cycles to crop yields with the hopes of helping farmers to prepare their fields several seasons in advance. Lupo says that the growing understanding of weather patterns along with improving forecast technology may one day allow predictions of as much as 20 years in advance.