April Crop Production: Warmest March Ever

08:15AM Apr 10, 2012


The contiguous United States experienced its warmest March, breaking a record set more than a century ago - in 1910. High temperatures were especially dominant east of the Rockies, where every State experienced top-ten warmth for March. In fact, record-setting March warmth affected 25 States from the Plains to the East Coast, including all of the Midwest. Monthly temperatures
averaged at least 15 degrees Fahrenheit above normal at numerous Midwestern locations, while below-normal readings were mostly confined to the Pacific Coast States.
Although the Nation as a whole noted its wettest March since 1998, little or no precipitation fell in a broad area stretching from the Southwest to eastern Montana and the western Dakotas. Unusually dry weather also prevailed in the Northeast and across Florida's peninsula. In the latter region, producers utilized irrigation to limit drought stress on blooming citrus and other crops.
In contrast, March storminess approximately doubled the water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack, slightly improving California's water-supply prospects. The middle third of the West, from California to Colorado, had a temporary buffer from developing drought in the form of abundant reservoir supplies. Farther north, areas from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies had both abundant high-elevation snow packs and near-to above-average reservoir levels.
East of the Rockies, winter wheat and fruit crops developed several weeks ahead of the normal place, leaving many commodities vulnerable to spring freezes. By March 26-27, the first of several cool snaps arrived in the lower Great Lakes region and the Northeastern States, forcing producers to monitor fruit crops for signs of freeze injury. Meanwhile, unusual warmth persisted through month's end from the Plains into the Southeast.
Elsewhere, March wetness continued to chip away at long-term drought across the south-central United States, while showers provided some beneficial moisture in the Southeast. However, drought-related concerns persisted in several areas, including the southern High Plains and the lower Southeast.


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