Drought concerns continue to linger

Winter is on the way out the door, but the latest drought monitor shows the western part of the country is still experiencing drought. Temps are starting to climb, as witnessed in some areas recently, but cooler temps could return.

Drought will remain a concern, ag meteorologist Ryan Martin says that seeing a March warm-up is not out of the ordinary.

According to Martin, “It’s not completely unusual. We’ve seen temperatures spike well before they should in the past. I guess whether or not this is set apart as ‘not normal’ will be what happens in the next two weeks, because if we turn around and we drop these temperatures again, like I feel we will over a large part of the country... Now, if we were to stay at this level all the way through, that would be incredibly abnormal.”

A return of cooler air is anticipated between now and the beginning of April. How cold could it get when the warmer temperatures finally fall off?

“The upper Midwest and Great Lakes, we could be looking at a significant drop to below-normal temperatures...,” Martin states. “So, we’re not revisiting those frigid temperatures of February, but we can go down significantly below normal [by] 10 to 15 degrees or so, I think, in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions, maybe even the Northern Plains for a bit, and then we bounce back.”

He goes on to state, “So, central and southern plains, particularly Southern Plains and Lower Delta areas-- we’re starting to see some planter movements, some guys more interested in doing fieldwork there, and I think the forecast overall on the temperature side will be conducive... I do think we will see a pretty active precipitation pattern across the Missouri Valley and into the mid and lower Mississippi Valley.”

Farmers are showing concern, but Martin says that he is holding out hope: “I think a large part of the Corn Belt will be turning out just fine with precipitation in the later spring and into early summer.”

However, he does say that he is concerned about a longer-term drought scenario unfolding in the plains as we move through the later part of spring and into summer.


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