Planting Forecast: Dry South and West, Cool North and East

What will planting weather look like? ( Farm Journal )

Weekly weather commentary from


Everyone is itching wanting to know when they can start getting out into the fields and planting the 2018 crop. We all know weather determines pretty much all of this. So, what does the forecast look like for late March into April and May? Something called ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation Index) will give us a good clue over the course of the next several months.


Right now, forecast models are under the impression we will stay in a weak La Niña to cool neutral ENSO-like pattern where waters across the equatorial Pacific Ocean are cooler than normal. However, we at have been discussing lately that a large area of warmer than normal water, known as a down-welling Kelvin wave is moving east. As this does so we believe it will knock out a lot of these cooler waters across the equator and have a significant impact on the weather here in the US. 


For the record El Niño=warm waters and La Niña= cold waters.

Weather outlook


The models are under the impression that waters may stay cooler and that is likely affecting the forecast over the next few months. We have done extensive research that suggests as the ENSO regions trend toward neutral parts of the U.S. can warm up and turn drier, especially further south and west. The latest thinking is that late March and into April can turn much warmer, especially for the central and southern Ag belt. Based on this thinking, the greatest risk for dryness would fall across the western and southern ag belt this spring. This would likely mean the drought in the southern U.S. will persist and likely become more severe.


The far northern and northwestern ag belt look to be at risk of staying cooler longer into spring planting. It’s also worth a mention that a few late season frost risks are not completely out of the question.


What happens in spring with ENSO and the pattern across the ag belt will have significant impacts to the summer growing season. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest short and long-term forecasts on a daily basis as transitional seasons can be very tricky to nail down. 


Forecast information and maps provided by