My friend Bob Kemerait wrote an article this week for Southeast Farm Press that describes how El Nino may affect your planting plans next growing season. He quoted me in it, so you might be interested in reading it. The important thing to keep in mind is that even though El Nino is currently occurring and is expected to be strong through the winter, every El Nino is unique and so, while we have an idea of what the winter is likely to be based on statistics, this could be one of those years when the statistics don’t work.
Climate dynamics says that in an El Nino winter in the Southeast, we are likely to have a strong jet stream over us for much of the winter. Since most low pressure areas ride along the jet stream, that means more clouds and rain. Statistically, that means lower temperatures overall, with daytime lows reduced by the lack of sunshine even though overnight it could be warmer since the clouds trap heat at night. It also means that we are likely to have a wet winter because of those pesky lows. But this year we also have a really warm Atlantic and globe overall (October was the warmest ever on record), so that really messes with the statistics based on past years since there is no modern equivalent. And of course, there are other climate oscillations that can occur, affecting monthly climate in ways that may not match the expected El Nino pattern.
Based on that, Bob gave some good advice for dealing with your fields now based on what we think is most likely to occur, but also warned producers that there are some things like nematodes that can cut your yields regardless of El Nino phase. The winter weather can help or hurt, but there are many other management techniques that should be undertaken regardless of ENSO status.