Crop Insurance Today Second Quarter 2019 - 6

despite the significant damage inflicted by Mother Nature this year, should not lead to complacency. High severity years like 2012, whose gross
loss ratio was 157 percent, while unpredictable,
will likely reoccur again in the future.
In this annual review we present the highlights of 2018, covering events that had an impact
on agriculture and the crop insurance industry.
The review begins with a discussion of the year's
weather and how it influenced crop production,
followed by an overview of commodity market
developments. Commodity prices and a summary of the Federal crop insurance program's
performance are then discussed. The review
concludes with coverage of some of the major
developments in the Risk Management Agency
(RMA) policies and programs and a summary of
the Crop-Hail business in the United States and
Canada. As farmers continue to struggle with uncertain market conditions and increasingly volatile weather, the information provided here helps
illustrate the benefits of Federal crop insurance
and its importance to U.S. agriculture.

U.S. Weather and
Production of Major Crops

Winter 2017-18: Overall the Winter was
warmer and dryer than normal for most of the
nation (Figure 1). Beginning with a milder than
normal December, particularly in the middle
of the nation. While cooler weather began to
emerge across the country, temperatures stayed
well above average in the northern Plains. As
the month progressed, the northern part of the

country experienced colder, more seasonal temperatures. The northern Plains warm spell ended
as temperatures plummeted in Montana and the
Dakotas. Meanwhile, except for snowfall in the
northern half of the country and some rain in the
Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, the rest of the country
had a relatively dry December. As 2017 came to
an end, extreme drought continued in Eastern
Montana and dry conditions fueled wildfires in
southern California.
January began with a blast of cold air from
the Great Plains eastward with temperatures averaging at least 10°F below normal. Later in the
month, while temperatures became milder in
the East, the Gulf Coast and middle Mississippi
Valley were hit with cold weather. In the Rockies and the Pacific Coast States, above normal
temperatures prevailed gradually moving lower
toward the end of the month. Lack of precipitation in much of the Plains contributed to extreme
drought conditions in southwestern Kansas,
western Oklahoma and northern Texas. Severe
drought also plagued portions of the northern
Plains, lower Rockies and the middle and lower
Mississippi Valley.
In February, some areas of the nation received
relief from the dry conditions as rain and snow
fell across the Southeast and Atlantic Coast. Unfortunately, the rains did not reach the areas of
northern Texas, Oklahoma, and the Southwest
that continued to suffer extreme drought conditions. Temperatures continued to rise in the
beginning of the month making it warmer than
average in much of the West-at least 15°F above

normal in the Rockies. Temperatures in the East
started out cooler than normal but, as the month
progressed, a warming trend emerged with much
of the Southeast and Appalachia area recording
temperatures that were also 15°F above normal.
Spring 2018: Spring was characterized by
dry conditions for some areas, while above normal precipitation prevailed in others. As a result,
March-May precipitation across the Lower 48
states averaged 7.91 inches, almost exactly equal
to the 20th century mean of 7.94 inches. Overall however, it was the 61st-driest spring during
the 124-year period on record. State precipitation
rankings ranged from the tenth-driest spring in
Arizona and New Mexico to the sixth-wettest
spring in North Carolina.
At the same time, the Lower 48 experienced
the 22nd warmest March-May period in the 124year period of record. Temperatures averaged
52.4°F, 1.5°F above the 1901-2000 mean. Similar
to precipitation patterns, temperature rankings
varied across states ranging from the 46th-coldest
spring in Georgia to the second-warmest spring
in New Mexico. Arizona, Colorado, and Texas
joined New Mexico in experiencing one of their
ten warmest springs. Arizona's fourth-warmest
spring followed its second-warmest winter (Figure 2).
Spring began with drought conditions worsening due to a dry March in the lower Great
Plains and Rockies, particularly in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, northern Texas,
and Utah. In contrast, much of the Gulf Coast
and Ohio Valley received beneficial rainfall. Out

Figure 2 Spring 2018 (Mar-May): Statewide Precipitation and Temperature Ranks, 1895-2018
Statewide Precipitation Ranks

Statewide Average Temperature Ranks

Period: 1895-2018

Period: 1895-2018

March-May 2018

March-May 2018

Record
Driest
(1)

Much
Below
Average

Below
Average

Near
Average

Above
Average

Much
Above
Average

Record
Wettest
(122)

Record
Coldest
(1)

Much
Below
Average

Below
Average

Near
Average

Above
Average

Much
Above
Average

Record
Warmest
(122)

Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/us-maps

6

SECONDQUARTER2019


http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/us-maps

Crop Insurance Today Second Quarter 2019

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