CATCH THE BUZZ
CROP WEATHER REPORT
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An odd weather regime, driven by El NiÃ±o and a high-pressure block over
eastern Canada and the northern Atlantic Ocean, persisted through the end of
February. El NiÃ±o contributed to an active sub-tropical jet stream, resulting
in generally wet conditions from California into the Southeast. However,
storm systems carried by the jet stream were prevented from quickly exiting
the eastern United States by the high-pressure block, resulting in numerous
slow-moving storms near the Atlantic Seaboard. The block also helped to drive
cold air southward across the Plains, Midwest, and Southeast. Monthly
temperatures generally ranged from 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit below normal
from the Plains into the Southeast, while above average values were noted in
the Northwest and from the Great Lakes region into New England.
Historic snowfall totals were noted during February in the Mid-Atlantic
States and neighboring areas, while typically rare Deep South snow was
observed on several occasions. On February 12, snow briefly covered at least
a portion of all 48 contiguous states. In the Southeast, excessive moisture
remained a concern with respect to the soft red winter wheat crop, which in
some cases was already suffering due to late planting and poor establishment.
Farther north, much of the Midwest experienced another cold, snowy month. At
times during February, snow covered the entire Midwest, although coverage was
deepest and most persistent in the western Corn Belt. Upper Midwestern
livestock continued to endure a very difficult winter, which began in earnest
with a pair of December blizzards.
Meanwhile on the Plains, snow helped to insulate much of the hard red winter
wheat crop, which continued to overwinter with no major concerns. On the
southern Plains, February precipitation aided wheat which had been previously
stressed by drier than normal conditions.
Elsewhere, California received another burst of beneficial precipitation
toward month's end, following a brief lull in storminess in early to
mid-February. The Southwest also continued to receive drought-easing rain and
snow. In contrast, unfavorably dry conditions and sub-par snow packs in much
of the Northwest increased the likelihood of drought development and below
average spring and summer runoff.
February Agricultural Summary
Abnormally cool temperatures blanketed much of the Nation during February.
Due to a series of winter storm systems, average temperatures in several
locations from eastern Texas through the Delta and Southeast fell to as many
as 12 degrees below normal. Conversely, the Pacific Northwest, Great Basin,
Great Lakes, and northern Atlantic Coast continued to experience warmer than
normal temperatures throughout the month, with recordings in Maine reaching
as many as 12 degrees above average. While much of the country was unusually
dry during February, portions of the Southwest, Texas, and several Atlantic
Coast States received an abundance of precipitation. Elsewhere, below average
moisture accumulation in areas of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky
Mountains pushed the year-to-date deficit to 50 percent or more below normal.
Wet weather and soggy field conditions across much of the South hampered
fieldwork throughout the month, delaying the start of spring planting
activities for some row crop producers. In Texas, corn and sorghum planting
was underway in some regions but had yet to begin in others, leaving overall
progress for both crops behind last year and the 5-year average. In areas of
the Corn Belt, some remaining 2009 corn acreage was harvested as temperatures
warmed slightly from January. Elsewhere in the Corn Belt, producers performed
routine maintenance on farm equipment and finalized their planting intentions
Arizona producers began seeding their small grain crops early in the month.
Steady rainfall in Texas led to improved conditions in the winter wheat crop,
while excessively wet fields in Florida and Georgia caused fertilizer
leaching and slowed emergence and crop growth. By month's end, emergence in
Arizona's barley and Durum wheat crops had reached 75 and 95 percent,
respectively. Winter wheat neared or entered the jointing stage in Georgia
and Texas, while heading was evident in early planted oat, rye, and wheat
fields in California.
Flooding and standing water stemming from rainfall in late January and early
February caused rotting in some potato fields in Florida. As a result,
producers in the Hastings area remained busy replanting their fields
throughout the month. Dry weather mid-month promoted the start of cabbage and
spinach harvest in South Texas. As February ended, early variety almond,
cherry, peach, plum, and prune trees were in full bloom in California.