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Does Mother Nature Even Own A Calendar?

Does Mother Nature Even Own A Calendar?
Where is global warming when you need it? I am ready to plant!

As I write this, it is April 15, 2014, and it is snowing.  Weather is unpredictable, it always has been and it always will be.  But really, snow? This past weekend we worked in the yard in t-shirts and envisioned planting corn in our near future.

The old saying, "If you don't like the weather in Indiana just wait five minutes and it will change" is so true. I know it's still early, but the itch to start gets stronger every day and the snow was quite depressing.

Snow In April: I wear boots every day, but I bought a new pair of spring sandals and had a meeting in Indianapolis. I wasn't about to let the snow stop me from wearing them. After all, the calendar said spring even if Mother Nature wasn't cooperating.

A little research on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website startled me back to reality. According to NOAA, May 9, 1923, represents the latest Last Measurable Snowfall in Indiana. The latest Last Freeze Date on record is May 27, 1961.

Related: How to Prepare for Planting in a Cool Spring

I'm forcing myself to look at the glass half full on April 15!

Once I saw these dates and perused the NOAA website, I clicked on to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center where I entered my state (Indiana), and the nearest weather station (Shelbyville Sewage Plant, Shelby County.)

The Historical Climate Data page for Shelbyville, Ind., came up with three bar graphs: Growing Degree Day Averages per Month; Growing Season Summary; and Length of Growing Season in Days.

Chris, my husband, is more of a numbers person than me but I was bound and determined to make myself feel better.

The Growing Season Summary graph was derived from averages from 1971-2000.  For a base temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the earliest date of last spring occurrence of 32 degrees F was March 30. The latest was May 17 and the median was April 23.

I relaxed just a tad, but when spring is late harvest is late. I recall one year jamming to Christmas tunes while running the grain cart – not something I would like to repeat.

I called Chris and asked, "So if the snow stops now and the weather is perfect, when can we get in the field?"

Related: 5 Steps to Successful Planting in a Cool Spring

He hates when I ask, but he always answers me. He said that if it was near 60 degrees and no rain we could spray in six days, but not likely. We are also a good 10 days to two weeks out from planting.

No two years are alike, but the first thing I always do is compare year to year.  Last year we started spring burndown on April 15.  We had done some pre-plant anhydrous starting on April 9 but planting for us got heavy in May.

So I will take a deep breath and try to relax. Have you or your neighbors started spring work yet?

The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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