Updated May 2, 2016.
The National Weather Service released their seasonal outlook today. Here is their discussion of the outlooks. Hmm, I thought they were retiring the all-caps style.
BOTH OCEAN AND ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS ACROSS THE EQUATORIAL PACIFIC OCEAN INDICATE A CONTINUED WEAKENING EL NINO STATE OVER THE PAST MONTH, WITH A TRANSITION TO ENSO-NEUTRAL FAVORED DURING THE LATE SPRING OR EARLY SUMMER 2016. THE LIKELIHOOD OF LA NINA DEVELOPING THEREAFTER INCREASES QUITE RAPIDLY WITH THE CHANCES EXCEEDING 50 PERCENT BY LATE SUMMER 2016, EARLIER THAN THE PREVIOUS OFFICIAL ASSESSMENT.
The outlook for May indicates that Illinois has an increased chance of being warmer than average. Illinois has equal chances of being above, below, or near-average on precipitation. Click to enlarge maps.
Here are the conditions across the Corn Belt for April so far. Except for the western edge of region, temperatures in the Corn Belt have been well below normal for April (left panel). Meanwhile, precipitation has been slightly above normal in MI, IN, OH, and parts of Illinois. Many areas in the western Corn Belt are 1 to 2 inches below normal (right panel). The NWS forecasts indicate that temperatures in the second half of April are likely to be well above normal across the region with little rain expected in the coming week. That’s good news for field work but raises some concerns about dryness in the west.
The latest NASS report from USDA pegs the percent planted at 2 percent. In recent trips around Illinois I have seen very little field work of any kind, except around Quincy. Here are a few things we are seeing in mid April.
Here is the April precipitation as of the morning of April 14. The areas in yellow received between 2 and 3 inches, while areas in the shades of green received between 0.5 and 2 inches. The driest part of the state received less than half an inch and stretches from Quincy eastward along the Illinois River and another patch just south of the Quad Cities.
As I posted last week, we are finishing up a 5-year USDA project called Useful to Usable (U2U), which is designed to provide a set of decision support tools for corn farmers. The tools can be found at www.agclimate4u.org, which redirects you to a server at Purdue University. Or you can just go directly to the tool here. A quick tutorial on the tool can be found here and a general discussion about corn production and growing degree days can be found in the Illinois Agronomy Handbook.
In last weeks post, we covered using the corn growing degree day (Corn GDD) tool before planting. This week I wanted to briefly cover how the Corn GDD tool looks during the growing season. This is a screenshot from July 26 of last summer (below).
The orange line is the comparison year of 2012, noted for its heat. The purple line is the 1981-2010 average. The green line is the accumulated Corn GDDs to date. The dashed line is the projected Corn GDDs using the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast out to 30 days, and the 30-year climatology after that. The lighter shading around the lines represents the historical variability of the daily Corn GDD accumulation associated with the purple line. The darker shading around the 30-day forecast represents the range of Corn GDDs based on the NWS forecast. After 30 days, the same darker shading represents the range of Corn GDD accumulations based on the remainder of the season.
If this is too much information, you can turn lines off by clicking its label in the legend box. Also, you can move the mouse pointer over any part of the graph and get a pop-up box with more details. In this case, I had moused over the forecast line for July 27, indicating that 1492 Corn GDDs were expected to be accumulated by that date.
Here is a zoomed-in view of the above graph, showing the core of the growing season. You can see the accumulated Corn GDD for 2012 (orange line), the average (purple line), and the current year (green line), and the forecast (dashed line).
So, give the Corn GDD tool a try – it’s free!