We have now entered mid-March with no signs of a significant change in the weather pattern that has brought us one of the coldest winters in the Midwest since the late 1970s along with some significant snowfall especially in eastern areas. This has led to a much deeper-than-normal frost level, especially in the western Midwest and Northern Plains where less snow cover allowed the cold weather to penetrate deeper into the ground. The significant snow cover in the eastern Midwest has led to wet fields as it melts, unable to be absorbed as well into the soils due to the frozen ground.
There is no reason for optimism as we look forward over the next few weeks. The blocking patterns that we have talked so much about in Canada and their influence on the weather patterns in the central U.S. in terms of producing cold and unsettled weather appear they will remain well established for the foreseeable future. So the idea of a late start to the planting season across most of the central U.S. appears very likely. However, if these patterns continue into the summer, then growing conditions could be rather favorable for corn and soybeans in the Midwest with no severe heat and mostly adequate soil moisture. However, as we all know, attempting to make long-range forecasts is treacherous at best. From what I can tell, no one accurately forecasted the severe winter that we just experienced.
We appear to be looking at a move in the Pacific toward El Nino conditions at this time. However, whether we actually get to a full-fledged El Nino is still questionable. And even if we do, I do not think it would have a significant impact on Midwest weather patterns during this growing season. Whether the blocking patterns continue in Canada or not are much more important to determining Midwest weather than El Nino.
We still have some significant drought concerns to talk about in western portions of the Southern Plains. As long as we maintain the winter-like characteristics of the pattern, it is unlikely we will see much beneficial precipitation in this area. However, maintaining this pattern deeper into spring and on into summer should allow for some improvement in moisture conditions. Whether it happens soon enough to help the wheat crop is questionable. The other concern with this pattern is that episodes of cold weather could become more of a concern to the developing crop in terms of damaging jointing and heading wheat.
Stay tuned. There will be a lot to talk about in the coming months.
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