There may not be a long growing season this fall. According to World Weather Incorporated Senior Agricultural Meteorologist Drew Lerner, data is causing concern. “There are three weather cycles playing out right now, including El Nino and the lunar cycle. El Nino is wimpy and it might dissipate in the next few weeks.” Lerner says the lunar cycle is the number one reason for the wet weather and cool bias coming back in regular intervals.
The third factor is the solar minimum. “There is a tendency for solar minimum years to help continue cool outbreaks. If the lunar cycle is already promoting a cooler tendency in the atmosphere, the solar cycle will come along and reinforce that,” says Lerner. “We are concerned a shorter growing season is more likely than a longer one.”
Portions of northern North Dakota have moved into the severe drought. This is the first time this year these counties have been in the D2 or severe drought category. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the northern tier of counties is reporting delayed crop growth, poor pasture conditions and an increase in the culling of cattle herds. The northern half of North Dakota and extreme northwest Minnesota are dealing with abnormally dryness and moderate drought.
A substantial part of the Canadian Prairies remains dry, as near drought conditions linger. Glacier Farm Media Director of Markets and Weather Bruce Burnett says some areas of the western prairies are in their third year of limited moisture. “We had a dry winter with drought conditions last fall in the southern two-thirds of the prairies. We’ve had virtually no soil moisture recharge in the past two years,” says Burnett.
Timely rains are needed to sustain the crop. “To get an average crop this year, we need frequent rains. We haven’t seen that yet this growing season. If we remain dry through June, there will be a lot of stress to crops and the yield potential will drop significantly.”
While wet weather continues to plague much of the Midwest, parts of North Dakota, northwest Minnesota and Canada’s Central Prairies remain on the dry side. World Weather, Incorporated senior ag meteorologist Drew Lerner says that June will bring some change to the current weather pattern.
“A ridge of high pressure should build up across the U.S. Plains as we go through the month,” says Lerner. “Unfortunately, it may be difficult for that ridge to shut down all the wet conditions. The good news is these storm tracks will end up running across some of the drier areas in southern Canada and the northern-most part of the U.S. Plains.”
It’s beginning to feel and look more like spring outside, and farmers are starting to prepare for the 2019 planting season. According to Nutrien Ag Solutions Senior Atmospheric Scientist Eric Snodgrass, this April will be much different than last year. “The jet stream is setting up for the eastern two-thirds of the country to carry a warm bias. But with that comes some spring-like storm systems,” says Snodgrass.
While the weather may be warmer in April, the month could also be wet in parts of the Midwest. Snodgrass says finding opportune planting windows could be challenging at times. “With the equipment and skill farmers have today, they’ll get the crop in. May is a different story. To say this May is going to carry a cold bias isn’t in the cards, but it looks like the month could be wetter than average.”
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