Tough Spring Ahead for Farmers and Ranchers as Drought Impacts are Forecasted to Linger

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Matt Makins about the transition from La Niña to El Niño

One of the highlights every year for the Cattle Industry Convention is the CattleFax market outlook seminar. One of the reasons the seminar is so popular is because of the weather product CattleFax puts forward during convention. In this episode of Beef Buzz, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is featuring comments from this year’s seminar as Matt Makins with Makins Weather, LLC out of Colorado talks about the transition from La Niña to El Niño.

The 2023 Cattle Industry Convention coverage is being powered by Performance Ranch, a part of Zoetis, and by Farm Data Services located in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

While we continue to be in La Niña now, Makins said it is almost over, although the drought it has brought along may linger a little longer.

“We are progressing to get rid of La Niña, but this spring, La Niña is still controlling our atmosphere,” Makins said. “In the summer, both are neutral. As we get into the fall, we will start to bring in some El Niño elements. I don’t want to directly tell you that 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 is a direct comparison, but remember how long that transition took from the drought of La Niña in ’11 and ’12 and ’13 to the lack of drought by 2017. It can take time. That is the point.”

Makins also talked about how he puts his forecast together.

“Statistically, I score out years since 1950 to match what is happening today and over the past month or the past 45 days,” Makins said. “I score those statistically. I don’t solely trust what a computer tells me is the best fit. Then, I begin to score things in my own mind and rank them. I consider the snowpack.”

Our snowpack across the country today is unlike any other year passed, Makins said, so he equates for that. Makins said he also accounts for the amount of ice across the pole and the drought footprint.

“Now, since 1950, I have about five or six years that are best-fit matches for our current pattern,” Makins said. “Best fit years for the spring outlook still look very La Niña in terms of moisture. Dryness overspreads the southwest again.”

Moisture in the northern high plains, Makins said, is “hit and miss,” as there will be areas of valuable moisture that will continue at times. The soil moisture issues because of the drought, Makin said, will remain for the high plains from Colorado into the western plains of Kansas and further south into New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

“Even though the oceans are saying La Niña is done, the atmosphere doesn’t think so yet,” Makin said.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

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