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Warm, Wet Spring Could Bring Planting Challenges

Warm, Wet Spring Could Bring Planting Challenges
Eastern Corn Belt could be looking at more moisture than normal.

The first of March started off cool, far different than one year ago. A heating and cooling repairman remarked that by the third week of March in 2012, they were working on air conditioners, and people were using them! That's not likely to happen again.

Eastern Corn Belt could be looking at more moisture than normal this Spring.

Ken Scheeringa, assistant ag climatologist, believes that the colder than normal trend will give way to more seasonal temperatures in March. However, he certainly doesn't expect anything like one year ago, when the deviation above normal for daily average temperature was so large it became an outlier on every chart, eclipsing the previous record so far that it may never be equaled. Some of the problems with fruit trees that bloomed early, only to be nipped by frost in April, plus early planting that set some crops up for reproducing during the hottest period of the summer, aren't likely to repeat this year.

However, ag climatologists do expect a warm and wet period in April and May. The proper way to say it is wetter than normal and warmer than normal, Scheeringa notes. There still could be periods of dry weather embedded within the overall trend. Compared to one year ago, however, it could be more challenging to find suitable days to work ground, plant crops and make hay during the early and middle part of the spring.

Despite some reports to the contrary in the popular press, there is no El Nino, or warm cycle of the weather factor related to sea-surface temperatures off the tropical Pacific Ocean. In fact, Scheeringa believes the neutral phase of the cycle, which is a normal element of the cycle, could persist longer into the summer than some ag weather specialists originally thought.

The three parts of the cycle are El Nino, or warm phase, neutral, and La Nina, or cool phase – when sea surface temperatures are below normal. When temperatures vary from normal, they can influence atmospheric pressure and circulation aloft, swaying weather patterns. However, in the neutral phase, the cycle is a non-factor.

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