By Tim Alexander
Central Illinois farmers can expect the cold and wet spring of 2014 to extend through April, according to DTN Senior Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.
In addition, there is an even chance the summer could develop an El Nino weather pattern, Anderson told attendees at the 2014 Illinois Soybean Summit, produced by the Illinois Soybean Association and sponsored by Prairie Farmer.
During a 45-minute presentation he called "Making Sense of the Chaos," Anderson delivered a thorough rundown of what happened this winter and why, weather-wise, along with a forecast of what Illinois farmers should expect for the growing season.
"We are still dealing with the impact of the polar vortex. In some areas, average temperatures are as much as 15 degrees below normal," Anderson said. "Because of the frost line level impact, you can expect a slower start to fieldwork-- especially north of Interstate 80. I think there will be a lot of corn that will not get planted in the state until after the middle part of April this year."
Cool April expected
April will not provide much relief from the below-average temperatures and above-average precipitation levels most in the Corn Belt experienced during the winter, Anderson continued.
"Looking at NOAA's model forecast, it still appears that things are going to take their time in terms of warming up. The April temperature outlook is slightly below normal across much of the central and eastern U.S.," he said. "There are indications we could see a pretty decent storm track into the Ohio Valley extending possibly as far north as central Illinois. The April precipitation outlook looks quite heavy for the Delta, Tennessee Valley and working northward into the Midwest."
El Nino possibility
Just days before Anderson spoke in Peoria, weather sources began warning of the possibility of an El Nino late in the summer. Since chatter like that can affect planting decisions and influence crop markets, Anderson wanted to share his opinion on the latest El Niño watch.
"The indications are that there is a 50% chance that El Nino will develop this summer," he confirmed. "If El Nino starts this year, we are going to get rain on a lot of our dry areas out west and in the southern plains this spring. I think that's overly optimistic. That's going to play its way into the market as well."
Anderson noted that the extreme weather conditions experienced throughout the U.S. over the past year-- floods, drought, tornadoes-- are all part of a larger issue that can bring about heated discussion along partisan political lines. But Anderson does not shy away from the issue of global climate change.
"It is all due to global climate change and begins with Arctic warming," he said. "Studies are determining if Arctic warming is slowing the jet streams, resulting in more prolonged patterns of extreme weather. When the Arctic warms like that, the jet stream starts to slow down a little bit. Warm and cold seasons are extended. We are seeing increased incidents of dryness or wetness. Rainfall totals are higher as are the number of heavy rain events; literally, when it rains, it pours."