Planters are rolling in the south but farmers elsewhere are itching to get in the field. We all know weather determines pretty much all of this. So, what does the forecast look like for late March into April and May?
Something called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index will give us a good clue.
Right now, forecast models are under the impression we will stay in a weak La Niña to cool neutral ENSO-like pattern where waters across the equatorial Pacific Ocean are cooler than normal. However, a large, warmer-than-normal area of water, known as a down-welling Kelvin wave, is moving east. As it moves, it will knock out these cooler waters across the equator and have a significant impact on U.S. weather.
As the ENSO neutralizes, the forecast will warm up and turn drier, especially farther south and west. This likely means the drought in the southern U.S. will become more severe.
In the central and southern Corn Belt, the forecast is calling for much warmer weather in late March and into April. A lot of planters will likely be rolling the first week of April.
The north and northwest Corn Belt are at risk of staying cooler longer into spring planting. Late-season frost risks are not completely out of the question either.
What happens in spring with ENSO and the pattern across the Corn Belt will significantly impact the summer growing season. Stay up-to-date on the latest short- and long-term forecasts as transitional seasons can be tricky to nail down.
By Michael D. Clark