“There is a real danger, or at least a very real risk, we will be back in La Niña-type conditions for the coming year.” That could mean 2013 crop yields at below-average levels for the fourth year in a row, predicted Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University climatologist and ag meteorologist.

A La Niña weather pattern, characterized by lower-than-normal surface-water temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean, could bring more dry weather next season. It’s not likely to be as harsh as 2012’s, but there won’t be enough precipitation to correct drought effects, he said at a Nov. 15 drought meeting hosted by Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Beef Center.

An El Niño pattern, by comparison, typically offers warmer-than-normal temperatures in much of the country and more moisture in southern regions.

“El Niño years have never really been bad years for forage or grain production,” Taylor pointed out. “La Niña is just the opposite, and this is what we have been experiencing.”

In 120-plus years of weather records, there have been four times with 19 years of good, stable weather followed by 25 years of volatile weather. The country’s now into that volatile weather pattern, he said.