16 CALF News • April | May 2022 • Uncertainty Piles on as 2022 Hits Road Gear Many thought 2022 would be a return to normal. Surprise! COVER STORY W elcome to the real 2022. And you thought it would be better than ‘20 and ’21. Indeed, while uncertainty is a given in the beef business, piling on seems like a bit much. Given that, however, here’s the weather and market outlooks from CattleFax, presented during the Cattle Industry Convention in early February. First the weather, which may turn out to be the most certain aspect of a very uncertain year. Let’s start with the good news. “Very, very rarely has La Niña shown up for three seasons.We’re in number two,” said Matt Makins, the new CattleFax weather forecaster who stepped in for the retired Art Douglas, Ph.D. The last time we had a La Niña three-peat was in the early 2000s, he told beef producers. In an El Niño, the Southwest and Gulf Coast are wetter than usual, while the northern United States is drier and warmer than usual. Most weather models show a move to a more neutral pattern, Makins said, with one exception. “Our American model, NOAA, predicts that La Niña hangs on and stays with us.” That means, by and large, what we’ve seen is what we’ll get, at least for this spring. However, the summer forecast isn’t largely tied to either El Niño or La Niña, as those events tend to fade. “So for your summer, the Western U.S., very warm. Eastern U.S., fingers crossed we can keep your temperatures more tempered than last year. If you look at the precipitation map, there is a bit of monsoon moving into Southern Arizona, Southern California,” he said. However, wetter weather in the Southwest portends drier weather in the Corn Belt. But not completely. While the west gets water, the Corn Belt won’t be completely left out, getting water periodically, he said. For the fall forecast, because the models show a trend toward neutrality, the weather should paint an even picture, he said. “We can begin to spread out moisture a little more judiciously. We can start to get water into Texas, southern New Mexico, Arizona. We can get water to the Pacific Northwest and we can continue it over the Northeast.” As the nation looks to spring, May will be critical for the Corn Belt, he said. The merry month of May will give a good indication of how strong the monsoon season will be. “The stronger the monsoon, the drier the Corn Belt. The weaker the monsoon, the better off for the Corn Belt.” The World at War As this was being written, diplomacy had failed and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued. Because Ukraine production is a significant part of the world grain trade, grain prices were crazy. And because Russia supplies a significant of the world’s oil, gas and diesel prices were equally lunatic. By Burt Rutherford Contributing Editor CattleFax Meteorologist Matt Makens sees drought continuing in the Southwest. La Niña and El Niño events depend on sea surface temperatures. Makins said the Pacific sea surface was very warm from north of Hawaii all the way to Southeast Asia.“That is warm water that will as some point be forced back across the East and replace La Niña with El Niño.” Should that happen, that’s good news for parts of drought-stricken regions. CattleFax analyst Kevin Good has strong projections for cattle prices. 2021 CattleFax President Mark Frasier Photos by Larry Stalcup