World Grain - November 2022 - 62

North American drought
having far-reaching impact
Low water levels on Mississippi River limiting barge shipments
by Drew Lerner
W
estern North America has been in a drought
since 2020, but during the course of this past
summer it expanded eastward across the
central United States. Dryness of some kind is dominating
most of the nation between the western slopes of
the Appalachian Mountains and the Pacific Coast with
a few exceptions. Drying this autumn has been impressive
and quite similar to that of 1956. Changes are
expected in the next several weeks that should bring
bouts of precipitation to ease " some " of the recent
expansion in dryness, but not all of it. Concern about
spring weather will remain high until serious precipitation
occurs.
Dryness has lasted long enough to bring some of
the western United States lakes, reservoirs and river
systems to record or near-record low levels. The
Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers are all reflecting
the unusually dry conditions of the past few months.
Barge freight fees soared to all-time highs in response
to the very low water levels warranting barge weight
limitations. The backlog of barges waiting to move
along in the river continued to grow in late October,
despite some short-term bouts of rain and increased
runoff in late October.
The most amazing aspect of this year's drought is that
so many Midwest and Great Plains farmers still managed
to get some respectable yields from some land that was
limited on soil moisture during much of the growing season.
Some production cuts did occur, but compared to the
big drought years of the 1950s and 1930s this one has not
had a huge impact - at least up until now.
62
The drought had been mostly confined to western
Canada's Prairies, the entire western United States
and northern Mexico in 2020 and 2021, leaving most
of the US Midwest and a part of the Great Plains getting
enough timely rain to support crops. Dryness in
the most recent 30 days has been quite impressive,
resulting in an amazingly fast maturation and harvest
pace.
The air became so dry in the US Plains and Midwest
that a seemingly innocent cool airmass arrived in the
last week of October and dropped temperatures to the
upper single digits Fahrenheit for the first time this season
in the upper Midwest and brought freezes to all but
the Gulf of Mexico coast. The fall in temperatures was
20 to 30 degrees below normal for this time of year and
was accomplished without snow on the ground. Snow
did accumulate significantly from northern Montana
and southern Alberta, Canada, into southern and eastern
Saskatchewan, Canada. A few days later, temperatures
in the central US Plains were in the 80s and 90s
Fahrenheit with relative humidity of 7% to 25% and
wind speeds with gusts to 66 mph. All of that would
not have occurred had it not been so dry, and the impact
was tough on agriculture.
Multiple years of La Ni├▒a occurring in this 22-year
solar cycle with an accompanying negative phase of
Pacific Decadal Oscillation are being credited for this
multi-year drought. The most fortunate part of this
drought has been its low impact on the US key corn and
soybean production areas. Crops finished out quickly
this year with harvesting well ahead of the usual pace.
November 2022 / World Grain / World-Grain.com
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World Grain - November 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of World Grain - November 2022

World Grain - November 2022 - Intro
World Grain - November 2022 - 1
World Grain - November 2022 - 2
World Grain - November 2022 - 3
World Grain - November 2022 - 4
World Grain - November 2022 - 5
World Grain - November 2022 - 6
World Grain - November 2022 - 7
World Grain - November 2022 - 8
World Grain - November 2022 - 9
World Grain - November 2022 - 10
World Grain - November 2022 - 11
World Grain - November 2022 - 12
World Grain - November 2022 - 13
World Grain - November 2022 - 14
World Grain - November 2022 - 15
World Grain - November 2022 - 16
World Grain - November 2022 - 17
World Grain - November 2022 - 18
World Grain - November 2022 - 19
World Grain - November 2022 - 20
World Grain - November 2022 - 21
World Grain - November 2022 - 22
World Grain - November 2022 - 23
World Grain - November 2022 - 24
World Grain - November 2022 - 25
World Grain - November 2022 - 26
World Grain - November 2022 - 27
World Grain - November 2022 - 28
World Grain - November 2022 - 29
World Grain - November 2022 - 30
World Grain - November 2022 - 31
World Grain - November 2022 - 32
World Grain - November 2022 - 33
World Grain - November 2022 - 34
World Grain - November 2022 - 35
World Grain - November 2022 - 36
World Grain - November 2022 - 37
World Grain - November 2022 - 38
World Grain - November 2022 - 39
World Grain - November 2022 - 40
World Grain - November 2022 - 41
World Grain - November 2022 - 42
World Grain - November 2022 - 43
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World Grain - November 2022 - 45
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World Grain - November 2022 - 50
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World Grain - November 2022 - 75
World Grain - November 2022 - 76
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https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/wg/2017_06_01
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https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/wg/2016_08_01
https://www.nxtbook.com/sosland/wg/2016_07_01
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