Spring Still Waiting for Winter to Leave
According to the calendar, spring is here again but in many parts of North America, winter refuses to let go. Across the U.S., from Kansas to Texas to New York, this past month has seen temperatures stay in the 20s and 30s making it the coldest March since the late 19th century. As if the record low temperatures were not bad enough for crops, last summer’s drought refuses to abate. More than 80% of Nebraska is experiencing exceptional drought conditions and NOAA is saying that it is unlikely to ease before the middle of this year. These conditions have led to a number of different problems. Because no one knows for sure if there is or will be enough moisture, farmers are buying buy less fertilizer and equipment. Farmers are also planting cheaper seed because there is no guarantee that their crops will even grow. As you might expect the entire industry is having a hard time in Nebraska and other drought stricken areas.
On the flipside, another Midwestern state, Minnesota, is benefiting from the late winter. Unlike Nebraska, Minnesota (as well as Iowa and Kansas) has received a decent amount of snow this winter and early spring. One would think snow would damage crops, but in actuality, a good snow cover often guarantees that crops will have enough moisture to really bloom. Of course, too much late season rain or snow will lead to flooding. In the end, even the areas that survived the drought have something to worry about as spring turns into summer.
All of this uncertainty has the entire agricultural industry on edge. Most experts believe that despite the chaos, 2013 should overall be a good year for grain in North America. Of course, when it comes to weather, there are no guarantees, so everyone in the industry will be watching the maps and forecasts closer than ever.