Key pattern drivers to watch for the 2024 Planting Season.

The evolution of El Niño will play a pivotal role in planting conditions for Spring of 2024. 

By Bret Walts

Winter 2023-24 has been heavily influenced by a powerful El Niño state in the Equatorial Pacific. El Niño is represented by anomalously warm ocean water off the coast of South America and westward towards the International Dateline. It impacts jet streams and subsequently precipitation patterns all across the world. In particular, it’s been the culprit for a very mild winter pattern across the Northern US – aside from a brief visit from a lobe of the Polar Vortex mid-January. Naturally, El Niño will weaken into Spring, but its impacts will continue to be felt beyond Winter. How long it will influence the pattern into 2024 will ultimately be decided by how fast it weakens.

Right now, compared to recent El Niño’s, 2024 is running very similarly – albeit slightly weaker – to 2016. Oceanic conditions in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean are similar to years like 2016, 2010 and 1998 – all of which eventually sank back into La Niña conditions the following Fall. However, model data remains split on how exactly this Strong El Niño evolves. 

European Model El Niño Forecast: 

American Ensembles El Niño Forecast: 

Why are these differences so important? Years that weaken El Niño faster are substantially warmer and drier in Spring than years that are slower or even linger El Niño through Spring into Summer: 

It’s not terribly surprising that the CFS (an American model) indicates a drier Spring overall vs. the European model that is wet: 

While it will be critical to watch ocean temperatures in the El Niño region over the next 2 – 3 weeks, BAMWX has released its official outlook to clients on and on the Clarity platform based on a number of different research factors. A public webinar will be held on February 28, 2024 at 11AM ET at analyzing the full forecast progression. 

If you are looking ahead to the planting season, be sure to sign up for the webinar above and inquire at!