The Argentina Drought & Factors Affecting The Grain Market

The Argentina Drought & Factors Affecting The Grain Market

The grain market has been influenced by a variety of factors in the last few months ranging from previous China Covid lockdowns (bearish), poor demand for corn and wheat (bearish), big Australian wheat crops hitting the market (bearish), a potential huge Brazilian soybean and corn crop (bearish) vs the expanding Argentina La Nina type drought (potentially bullish later).

Corn pollination begins in Argentina in the next few weeks and there is little hope of any major relief. I think the Argentina corn crop will eventually fall below 50 MMT.

Till now, corn and wheat traders have basically “yawned” at the expanding Plains drought for wheat (the worst early planted crop in about 20 years from Kansas to Texas) and the drought in Argentina. Why? A couple of reasons 1) The demand side of the equation has been poor; 2) Wheat has 9 lives and commercial grain companies will not panic unless La Nina continues next spring and timely rains do not fall in the important April-May time period. 

The one big winner in the grain sector lately has been soybeans. Look at the seasonal of long soybean meal in December that has worked in 13 of the last 15 years and how prices previously skyrocketed.

Source: Moore Financial Research

Source: Stormvista models and Weather Bell

With respect to the corn market, again, I expect that prices may bottom soon due to this extreme heat, and La Nina is still alive and well.

But what about next spring and summer? In 75% of the cases since 1950 when La Nina eased and transitioned to a neutral climatic shift, corn and soybean crops were above trend-line. This would be a long-term bearish signal later next year, in which a 15-30% drop in grain prices would occur from whatever highs we make this winter.

Our Weather Wealth newsletter has helped farmers and commodity traders in more than 15 countries make much more informed hedging and investment decisions based on our long-range weather forecasts and 35+ years of analyzing markets. There is so much FREE information out there, much of it old news and inaccurate. We pride ourselves in 2nd guessing forecasting models and understanding market psychology. We also have a unique Best Weather spider that we publish twice a week for multiple markets. Here is an example of how we were slightly bullish on soybeans close to a month ago.

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Lower Brazil Crop Prospects And Vietnam Harvest Delays Help Coffee Prices

Lower Brazil Crop Prospects And Vietnam Harvest Delays Help Coffee Prices

For nearly three months we have touted an end to the northern Brazil coffee drought due to the third consecutive winter (South American summer) of La Niña and other climatic variables we analyze for clients. We were lucky enough to catch most of the big move south a month or two ago from over $2.00 to about $1.55 per pound.

However, coffee prices wiped all of those bullish traders out of the market. They were focusing on other fundamental factors and not the weather.  My Best Weather “Spider” was at a very bearish minus nine (-9) during September and October. Recently our Spider became more neutral before the price spike. 

Where the Spider Is Now

Notice, for example, the “anti-herd mentality” of a +2 (bullish) due to too many shorts in the market in the last few weeks. Also, see how global crop prospects changed in my view, from a -3( bearish) to neutral to slightly positive (+1). The Spider below was released yesterday to clients before Tuesday’s big price rally.

The most. recent Weather Spider turned neutral on coffee.

Two Crop Issues in the Coffee Market

Two crop issues have returned to the coffee market. One is that, even with all the rain in northern Brazil the last 2 months, some concerns from hail damage in Minas Gerais and some trees stressed from the drought a year or so ago and frosts are not producing an excellent bloom. The other problem is the incessant Vietnam rains right in the middle of their harvest. This is typical of La Niña, but the rain presently is particularly heavy. It could lower the Robusta coffee crop.

Percent of rainfall next three weeks for coffee areas in Vietnam

Source: Jim Roemer and StormVistaModels.

So… how does one trade coffee? The first chance I see of a drying trend for Vietnam and/or hear new reports with respect to the Brazil coffee crop, I will recommend specific JO (ETF) and options positions for traders.

Please feel free to a two-week complimentary trial to my twice-a-week newsletter Weather Wealth (only if you have not had one before)

Weather Wealth Free Trial Coffee Article

Thanks for your interest in commodity weather!

Warm regards,

Jim Roemer and The Weather Wealth Team 

Will The Hurricane Season Pick Up?

Will The Hurricane Season Pick Up?

There are many climatological factors that affect the Atlantic and Gulf hurricane seasons. Typically, a La Nina event like we have today reduces wind shear which can help enhance tropical activity. In contrast, El Nino events increase wind shear and reduce the number of storms.

Based on our research and similar global ocean temperatures, the 1996 and 2018 analog may be a good ones. 1996 was a La Nina event with some similar global climatological characteristics. In 2018, Europe also had a severe heat wave in drought that killed thousands of people. African dust also killed the beginning of the hurricane season that year; like this year.

Notice the storm tracks in both of these cases: Mostly out in the Atlantic or along the east coast. In both 1996 and 2018, total named storms were 13 and 14, respectively.

Could this season still reach the projected 17 storms or more that NOAA and others are saying? It could based on climate change and the warm loop current in the Gulf of Mexico (see the discussion below)

Please see the CAC’s hurricane forecast here

So here is what we are thinking at Best Weather about the general storm tracks this year

1996 La Nina and hurricane tracks

2018 was not a La Nina but similar major European heat wave with AFrican dust

and 2018

Why 2022 hurricane season got off to a slow start and what may be changing?

Summer 2022 got off to a slow start due to major African dust that disrupted any development in the Atlantic. However, in the main eastern development region near Africa, African dust is weakening and some tropical storms and hurricanes are forecasted by early September.

Additional factors that influence hurricane development (or not), are the following

  1. The MJO (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea hurricanes are four times more likely to occur when the MJO is producing enhanced precipitation and divergent upper level winds than when precipitation is suppressed and upper level winds are convergent.)

See an interesting article and description here

2. The TNA index (ocean temperatures off the west coast of Africa

3. The loop current in the Gulf of Mexico (The warm loop current the last few years, brought on by climate change and global warming helped spawn no less than 5 category 5 hurricanes over the last few years out of nothing).

Forecasting Late Summer And Fall Temperature Trends For Natural Gas Traders

Forecasting Late Summer And Fall Temperature Trends For Natural Gas Traders


Over the last. months, clients to Weather Wealth, my twice-weekly online commodity weather service, received my prediction for mostly a hot summer for US natural gas. Subscribers to our service were given a very conservative longer-term option strategy. That strategy would limit the risk from day to day trading on occasional cool weather spells, COVID-19 issues, etc.

Weather anomalies impacting natural gas

The cooler weather (blue) across the Midwest this week helped to break natural gas prices late last week.

However, what is the long term weather pattern heading into the fall for US natural gas regions? Could cooling demand exceed the 10 year average deeper into summer? For this, we look at the most important teleconnections to get a “jump” in natural gas and other markets. These help to “out-forecast” the majority of private weather forecast services.

Analyzing Longer-Term Climate Variables

So what are the most important climatic variables in predicting weather at least one month in advance? The stars below represent 4 teleconnections that have the most influence on late summer and early fall weather, They are:

1) The Arctic Oscillation Index (AO), which I am forecasting to be in a positive phase.

Artic Oscillation

2) The Eastern Pacific Oscillation Index (EPO), which has to do with the jet-stream near Alaska. Right now, I forecast this index to be positive, which means low pressure east of Russia. That is a warm signal for the US.

Eastern Pacific Oscillation Index impacts jet stream

3) The Pacific North Atlantic Oscillation Index (PNA) which will be turning negative.

Pacific North Atlantic Oscillation

4) The developing weak La Nina at NINO12 regions near Peru.

Nino12 region
Warm late summer august and september

My teleconnection program (above) is predicting a warm late summer and early fall weather pattern for US natural gas areas. A user of my software plugs in the teleconnection values, which are predicted. Voila! Up comes a weather forecast as far as 3 to -5 months in advance.

What in my forecast is based on these present teleconnections for the winter? How can one use them to estimate corn, soybeans, and other crops in South America this winter (their summer)? Can they tell whether natural gas will be in a bullish market? We recommend you start a two week free trial period, below,.

Jim Roemer’s Weather Wealth Commodity Newsletter

The Collapse in Grain Prices

The Collapse in Grain Prices

Three commodities that have been in the “dog house” for years are wheat (WEAT), corn (CORN) and soybeans (SOYB). The collapse in grains, of course, has been because of record global grain crops and mostly ideal weather in several countries. These include the Midwest grain belt, Brazil, and Argentina.

Global wheat weather mostly has been ideal. Drought eased rains in Australia three months ago. There also was a big improvement in the important wheat crops in Europe and Ukraine, two of the world’s top exporters.

For corn, Midwest soil moisture is presently ideal. There are no signs of any hot weather that would stress crops for a while.

Soybean prices may get a short term boost in potential exports to China. However, I cannot say by any means that we are going into a major bull market. The trade war with China certainly has been an added heartache for farmers and global grain traders.

Grains ETF eight year slide.

The all-grain commodity ETF (DBA) has been in a long tailspin. This started when the 2012 midwest drought resulted in the last true bear market in grains.

Following the herd in trading often does not work

Very often in markets, following the “herd” is not advisable. I am a contrarian by nature. This does not mean, however, that I would blindly give a buy recommendation in corn, wheat, or soybeans just because everyone seems to be short these markets right now (especially corn).

Take the stock market rally in the last couple of weeks. Everyone and their dog (or should I say sheep) was buying. This rally came from ideas that the US economy is re-opening and an apparent bullish job report number last week. However, I have been of the opinion that this was, indeed, “herd mentality.” The world is still in a state of hurt and there is no guarantee that COVID-19 will end anytime soon.

Following other traders in grain markets doesn't always work.
Following the herd in trading is often not advisable. Unfortuneatly, in the case of grains the last few years, it has been.

What will it take to see a Midwest summer grain rally?

La Nina is presently forming in the Pacific ending the El Nino event. El Nino inspired back-to-back droughts in Australia and incessant snows to the western United States two winters ago (replenishing water supplies). It also brought generally ideal global grain crops. This cooling (La Nina) in the equatorial Pacific can sometimes bring hot weather for Midwest grain crops and for some natural gas regions. However, this weather scenario is much more common when we simultaneously have a negative (cool) Pacific Decadal Index (PDO).

When I say PDO, I’m not talking about prescription drug overdoses or about past due financial obligations. In climatology, PDO refers to Pacific Decadal Oscillation. What does that have to do with commodity markets? Specifically: the Midwest corn belt weather can be adversely impacted by PDO.

The Midwest corn belt can be impacted by PDO.

We are entering the most important time of the year for the North American domestic corn crop. If you are a farmer, you are trying to figure out how low corn prices may go. Should you hedge at these cheap levels, or is there a chance for a Midwest hot, dry spell? If you are a trader, you are looking for opportunities to ride the coattails of a potential bull market in agricultural commodities. Will there be any?

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a pattern of change in the ocean’s climate. The PDO is detected as warm, or cool, surface waters in latitudes above 20 degrees North. During a warm, or positive, phase, the west Pacific becomes cool and part of the eastern ocean warms. During a cool or negative phase, the opposite pattern occurs. It shifts phases on at least an inter-decadal time scale, usually about 20 to 30 years. However, there can be some short term variations in this index that can drive Midwest corn belt weather.

There are several weather criteria that can affect Midwestern grain markets this coming summer. The PDO is a very critical teleconnection. When it is in its negative phase (cool in eastern Pacific near California), this yields the greatest chances for Midwest summer dryness that can hurt crops. There are some signs that the PDO is turning slightly negative, as ocean temperatures east of Asia are warmer than normal. However, we generally have to see the eastern Pacific cool near California to classify the PDO as in its negative phase.

The other climatic teleconnections in the hopper are La Nina (which is slowly forming) and the NAO/AO relationship and what happens with the weakened summer Polar Vortex. The weakened vortex I predicted last December was very responsible or the winter and spring collapse in natural gas prices (UNG).  

A really good definition and video  of the PDO can be find here.

What this all means

The Key Point of this article is that buying the commodity ETF (DBA), just because it looks oversold and could be a “bargain hunting” play is not advisable at this point. While being a contrarian can often work in certain markets, unfortunately, following the herd has made the most sense in grains for years. If and when the PDO turns more negative and ocean temperatures cool in the eastern Pacific near California, then the potential may occur for late summer heat and dryness that could lift both natural gas and grains out of the doldrums. Stay tuned at if the PDO goes more negative.

Jim Roemer

The Long Standing Northern Brazil Drought And Why It Is Easing

The Long Standing Northern Brazil Drought And Why It Is Easing

Some History and Reasons for Northern Brazil’s Multi-Year Drought

Call it climate change, deforestation or just an historic climatic cycle, but the on going Northeast Brazil drought has affected their economy in many ways. The drought in some areas has persisted since 2012. This is highly unusual.

There is another part of the world, which has equally suffered from drought. Of course, I am talking about Australia, in which a positive Indian Dipole and a weak El Nino signal have contributed to the worst disaster for them in modern history. No doubt, climate change is also to blame.

Brazil is the world’s third largest agricultural exporter, and the sector represents approximately 6% of the country’s GDP. In 2014, the drought wiped out 1/3rd of the coffee crop and helped prices soar 50%.

Brazil is the world’s largest producer of sugarcane, beef, coffee and orange juice. It is the 2nd biggest producer of soybeans.

While northern Brazil had suffered drought, the south continues to see an economic boom.

The drought had prompted soul-searching in resource-rich Brazil, which has the world’s largest renewable fresh water supplies and yet repeatedly grapples with water and energy crunches caused by dry spells.

São Paulo state accounts for a third of Brazil’s economy and 40 percent of its industrial production, and the 2014 water crisis crippled factory and farm output as well as the service sector in a stagnant economy.

Since that time, you can see how the Brazil drought has expanded north. While Sao Paulo has seen much more normal conditions the last few years, Bahia and the Amazon region have not.

The northeast region of Brazil (NEB) suffered with the worst drought during 2012–2019 that has greatly affected water availability in general, in particular the hydropower reservoirs. I believe that deforestation has been a key factor.

(RED) represents the drought since 2015 affecting far NE Brazil

Drought Starting To Ease In Brazil?

Over the last few weeks, we have seen some of the best rainfall in Northeast Brazil in several years. The improving Brazilian weather has been one key factor in coffee prices breaking some 25% again. In addition, soybean production will be huge, helping to pressure on soybean prices again.

So how did I predict an easing in the drought for some key clients? After all, it is hard to know the exact implications that climate change and deforestation have on standard computer weather models.

Our CLIMATE PREDICT exclusive long range weather forecast software uses teleconnections to look ahead months in advance for global agricultural markets. Developed by Jim Roemer and Doug Stewart, Ph.D from MIT, it is the most sophisticated and accurate long range weather forecast program available.

One can see above how our model predicted above normal rainfall in Brazil last November, for December. The checked boxes represent the most important teleconnections, which influenced the Brazil weather. These are the positive Indian Dipole, negative AAO index over Antarctica and a lingering El Nino signal (warm NINO4) in the western Pacific.

So, is this a short term affair for Brazil? Well, computer models remain quite wet into early February. However, longer term forecasts and there impacts on global markets will be made available to customers in a special subscription service we will be offering by March or April.