By Bye El Nino, Hello La Nina

Before poor old El Nino has hardly had time to pack his bags, meteorologists are warning us that we are switching suddenly and dramatically to La Nina.

What's the difference?

La Nina is typified by a sharp cooling along the equator in the Eastern Pacific, according to Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

"Chilling seas in the Eastern tropical Pacific are linked to a massive shift in the global wind circulation that reverses air pressure and rainfall patterns at opposite ends of the Pacific Basin. When La Nina is in effect, the climate becomes very dry in Argentina, while southeastern Australia benefits from heavy rain," says Gail.

The recent El Nino was effectively responsible for the heavy rains that brought Argentina's nigh on two year drought to an end, and with it bumper soybean and corn production. It was also said to be at least partly responsible for the poor monsoon season in India last summer.

La Nina also typically brings hot and dry conditions to the US Midwest, although the timing of the arrival of these can vary significantly. La Nina will develop there sometime between June and August this summer, according to the US National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Centre.

Hands up all those old enough to remember the summer of 1988? The drought in the Midwest was on the news every night here in the UK that year, and soymeal prices shot from around GBP140 (which was "normal" then) to GBP270 in quite a short timeframe.

The crucial difference between now and 1988 however was that El Nino bombed out during the winter of late 1987, so La Nina was already much better established early into the US growing season.

Further light reading here