The latest word from Kerry Graves, Bloomfield, is that suddenly its turned into a normal spring after all. Like many farmers, especially in southwestern Indiana, he got off to an early start. Then rain showers started popping up, often bringing an inch or more of rain. Under moderately cool to normal spring temperatures, it takes several days to dry that back out to planting condition. Now he's looking at a calendar marching toward mid-May with still some corn and most of his soybeans to plant.
"Well, it looks like it's going to be a normal spring after all," he said recently.
Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist at Purdue University, predicted as much. In fact, in early April, he noted that April should be on the warm and dry side. However, he looked for May to return to normal, whatever normal is. A normal May in Indiana has its wet periods, but isn't cool or wet for an extended period. So far, that's what May is turning out to be. Unfortunately for many farmers, the number of dry days between rains are less in May so far than they would prefer.
Part of the climatologists projections came on looking at the El Nino and La Nina pattern. An El Nino is winding down, and headed toward a neutral state. That means that ocean water temperatures off the coast in the tropical Pacific Ocean are near normal. This cyclic event which has occurred for centuries determines air patterns aloft, which in turn affect the position of the Jet Stream. The position of the Jet Stream and where it locates itself each summer has much to do with rain patterns across the globe, including across Indiana and the Midwest.
Greg Soulje, a professional weather forecaster, will outline in the June issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer why he thinks Indiana could be in a normal pattern for precipitation and temperature for the rest of the summer. Toward the end, it could tend to dry out, he notes. The dry-out could start sooner in the western reaches of the Corn Belt. He makes his projections also largely upon what he expects from the El Nino and La Nina cycle. While it's only one of several forcing function factors that affect weather, it is one of the major ones that control overall weather trends here in the Midwest.