When meteorologist Greg Soulje talks, farmers listen. That doesn't mean he's always right, but the Midwest-based ag weather specialist has built up a following of believers.
If he's right this time around, the Eastern Corn Belt, southward to the Ohio Valley, could see a broad range of temperatures and a wild ride from now through early summer. Cool weather with late-season frosts and light freezes may occur in the upper Midwest and interior sections around the Great Lakes Corn Belt. That could include the areas around Lake Michigan in northern Indiana. Think opposite of last year!
Temperatures will vary just either side of normal, Soulje says. Look for some significant early-season fluctuations farther south and southwest from the Ohio Valley.
"The result may be slower than normal early crop development in the region," he says. "Later in the season, warmer than normal temperatures centered on the western Great Lakes and upper Midwest will be welcomed, bringing better crop growth and development."
Here's the part where the forecast gets tricky. It may mean running the planter hard on good days.
"There will be no shortage of rainfall, with average to above-average frequency," Soulje predicts. "There is the potential for an excess of rain in some Midwestern regions of the Corn Belt through early summer. However, a trend toward drier than normal conditions may also develop close to late summer."
What it means is that spring could be a challenging planting season for Corn Belt farmers. This agrees with forecasts coming from Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist in Indiana.
Longer range maps indicate a weak La Nina may return and influence weather patterns much later on, Soulje adds. This would mean the return of a drier pattern from the Great Plains southward at some point.
Look for a more complete forecast for the entire country from Soulje in the May issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.