Spring 2018: What Does the Weather Mean for Agriculture?

Looking Ahead to the Planting Season

You wouldn’t know it by looking outside, but spring begins today.

For farmers, the start of spring means planting season is right around the corner.

And Mother Nature can make or break a farmer’s  yield, depending on what she throws at us in the next few months.

This winter was marked with several Arctic outbreaks.

“People probably remember these extreme cold temperatures on December 31st when we hit –24 degrees and that was the coldest that we’ve experienced since 2014,” explained North Dakota State Climatologist Dr. Adnan Akyuz.

It really was the February cold that dipped the winter temperature average, but it was also a much snowier February than average.

It was some welcome moisture coming off a dry year in 2016.

Add in some helpful wet and heavy snow at the start of March. But the real question is what happens in April and May.

“If rains do not return in Springtime, it is going to be easy to fall back into 2017’s drought extended into 2018,” said Akyuz.

Akyuz is cautiously optimistic that the outlook for the spring calls for above average precipitation and it may be enough to relieve drought stricken areas.

While that deep snowpack in some areas has moisture, it also means that we’ll see a colder start to the Spring.

“If we had the soil exposed into the solar radiation, it would give us a warmer than normal springtime,” said Akyuz.

Those colder temperatures may mean that it takes longer for the ground to thaw and could keep some of the melting snow from getting in the ground.

“The infiltration takes place and it will moisten that top layer which is great news because you need that layer to be moist for germination to take place. So that’s a plus for agricultural practices,” explained Akyuz.

And starting the summer season with ample moisture is a big key for a productive harvest.

Planting season in the Red River Valley usually goes from the end of April into May.

Categories: Agriculture, Community, Morning – Features, Weather Blog