How El Niño’s exit could impact the 2024 planting season

USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says there are a few silver linings in the spring forecast for farmers even if El Niño doesn’t make its exit in the coming weeks.

The weather pattern transition from El Niño to La Niña could switch up conditions in farm country during key planting or even harvest seasons sometime this year depending on when we see that shift predicted to take place in late spring or the early summer of 2024.

While the unsettled weather pattern is known to cause challenging weather conditions for farmers overall, according to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Meteorologist Brad Rippey, it will likely continue to bring some growers much-needed moisture and storms in the coming weeks:

“A lot of this storminess can still be attributed to the lingering impacts of El Nino, which is certainly fading away based on oceanic and atmospheric indicators, but it’s a still big player this spring. With this active storm track and quite a bit of moisture – [the] lowest drought levels coverage in about four years. So, we’re certainly seeing some strong impacts of El Nino lingering into the spring and having some impacts on planting season. But also on plant health, as well, because we have seen some good moisture in some of the previously dry areas with good impacts on emerging summer crops, winter wheat, and, of course, rangeland and pastures [are also benefiting from this stormy pattern. So, it’s not all bad news.
Brad Rippey, USDA Meteorologist

Rippey says farmers are still facing weather complications, though, including high winds and spring snowfall.

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After years of drought, farmers across U.S. farm country are getting so much rainfall that it’s dampening their spring planting progress later into the season.

Marion is a digital content manager for RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel. She started working for Rural Media Group in May 2022, bringing a decade of experience in the digital side of broadcast media as well as some professional cooking experience to the team.