Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


February 28, 2014

Winter likely to keep a frigid grip on Indiana into late March


But according to Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen, while a colder March could affect planting dates, the bulk of the state’s farmers don’t get serious about planting corn until the third week of April.

That means weather in early April is likely to influence planting far more heavily than the weather in March.

“The fact that March is colder than normal might or might not impact planting dates, depending on how cold we’re talking,” he said. “But if we get to a point where it looks like planting might be delayed, it’s important to remember that planting date is only one of many factors that influence crop yields.”

As an example, Nielsen compared the 2012 cropping year, when farmers planted one of the earliest crops on record before drought decimated yields, with the 2013 cropping year, which started off with delayed planting and ended with above-trendline yields.

In Indiana, the earliest dates farmers can plant corn and still be eligible for crop insurance are April 1 in southern Indiana, April 5 in central and April 10 in northern. Soybean dates are April 15 in southern Indiana, April 20 in central and April 24 in northern. That means farmers have much more time to wait and see how the weather actually plays out.

Forecasters will continue to watch long-range weather models, which Scheeringa said take into account global weather signals, including storm activity in the far west Pacific, surface ocean temperatures and conditions over North America. So far, water temperatures are normal in the Pacific Ocean with a lack of El Niño - a rise in surface water temperatures near the Equator - and La Niña - a drop in surface water temperatures in the same region.

“Neutral El Niño and La Niña ocean patterns are expected to continue as non-players in the spring forecast,” Scheeringa said. “But storm activity in the western Pacific should impact the path of the jet stream in the eastern Pacific and over North America. The path would re-establish the old dominant winter pattern of warm conditions in western states and unusual cold east of the Rocky Mountains.”

— Daily News

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