Created with Sketch.

Watching the Skies

Weather Trends

According to a weather expert, sunflower growers can look forward to good moisture in spring, despite some potential for late seeding.

Sunflower growers can look to 2022 planting with guarded optimism. After a severe drought that defined the year prior, the upcoming U.S. and Canadian sunflower planting season looks to be quite favorable, says meteorologist David Streit of Commodity Weather Group based in Washington, DC.

“Over the winter months, early 2022, it looks like it’s going to be drier than normal, but precipitation is normally very light. As we get into the spring, we’re expecting to see some weakening of the La Niña we’re in right now. That’s when we will see precipitation activity pick up,” he says.

“There may be some delays to planting because of cool and wet conditions. If you put your seed in the ground too soon, there could be some issues as far as stand viability goes. We will likely continue to see a weakening of the La Niña, meaning we will see an easing of the wet pattern. There could be some planting issues at the start, but as of right now I don’t think anything too dramatic.”

Streit says the cool, wet weather start to the spring could be a big help to growers who had difficulty in 2021.

“From a soil moisture standpoint, I think growers will definitely have a better situation for going into the early growth period. For anyone worried about dryness, they can take some comfort in what’s coming for 2022.”

Despite decent conditions for spring, Streit says challenges with drought and heat could return in summer, depending on a myriad of factors such as upper air and sea surface temperature pattern evolution during the spring.

“We could go back into a hotter pattern in the northern United States and Canada growing regions, but right now we just don’t have the data to let us see that very clearly.”

Globally, Streit sees a similarly wet spring for the major sunflower growing regions of Europe.

“They’re probably going to be set up to have near- to above-normal rainfall activity for the spring. That moisture will mostly be a good thing, and I don’t foresee big challenges as far as their moisture situation goes, or in getting the crop established.”

He says countries like France and Spain could run into some minor planting delays due to the active shower pattern but doesn’t foresee major delays in seeding there. He does predict some drought for parts of Northern Europe but says it will likely be mainly in the wheat and rapeseed growing areas, as opposed to the more southerly sunflower-growing regions.

What is La Niña?

La Niña is an oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño, as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation climate pattern. During a La Niña period, the sea surface temperature across the eastern equatorial part of the central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 1-3 C (2-6 F). A La Niña can persist for as little as five months to as long as three years. It has extensive effects on weather across the globe, particularly in the Americas.