Now Comes 'Prayer Time' For Your Crops

Nor' east Thinkin'

Will the weather extremes continue to batter Eastern crops?

Published on: June 16, 2011

A couple weeks ago, I was commiserating with a cattleman about the weather. (He couldn't grumble about cattle prices.) He mentioned exactly what I was wondering: "Now that we've had monsoon weather all spring, is it going to turn off dry this summer?"

We can certainly remember seasons when Mother Nature abruptly turned off her spigot. But isn't that just because those years hit us harder?

Maybe not. Recently, I received a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rainfall history grid for my particular area. Crop insurance actuaries use that data to project the probabilities of crop losses based on 30 growing seasons of rainfall data.

This particular area, which I often refer to "Dry Gulch" County, had only seven of the last 30 growing seasons with no rainfall shortages from April through September. Shortages, as defined by Uncle Sam, are less than 90% of average rainfall.

On the other hand, 12 years incurred at least two or three periods (April/May, June/July and August/September) when rainfall dropped below that 90% level. In nine of those years, the shortages occurred back to back, for example, in June/July plus August/September. And, as you might guess, those shortages most often occurred in the June to September period.

Remember, I said that's for "Dry Gulch" County and this particular area of Pennsylvania. Your local crop insurance agent should have those numbers for your area. And they may be different.

Here in south central Pennsylvania, the rainfall spigot seems to have tightened down. My lawn and a lot of corn in this area already is wanting for more than a shower.

I hope you're in more forgiving soils and still in Mother Nature's good graces.

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