Very few farmers in the U.S. experienced abnormally dry conditions in April.
“Since the U.S. Drought Monitor’s inception in 2000, there have never been fewer areas of drought in the nation than there are right now. In fact, less than 1 percent of the U.S. is currently experiencing D-2 (severe) drought,” said Dr. Adnan Akyuz, North Dakota state climatologist the end of the third week of April. “That means there are no D-3 (extreme) or D-4 (exceptional) drought in the country.”
That spells good news going into planting for farmers across the nation.
Planting in areas of the North Dakota in the north central region will be normal, and in the rest of the western half of the state, a little later than normal.
In the eastern half of North Dakota, from Jamestown to Fargo and areas north and south, planting will be later than normal.
For the mid-May outlook, the temperatures across the state will be normal. For precipitation, there is equal chance that precipitation will be below normal, equal or above normal.
Akyuz is unable to predict rainfall because there is no forecast model to follow.
Looking at the end of spring to mid-summer, from May through July, Akyuz said forecasting the temperature across the state “is fuzzy” because there is no forecast model to use.
That means the temperature until mid-summer has an equal chance of being lower than normal, normal or above normal.
“You would need a better skill to break the tie, and the forecast doesn’t have that kind of skill,” he said.
However, forecasting precipitation for the spring to mid-summer is much clearer.
Counties that are south of a diagonal that stretches from northwestern corner to the southeastern corner of the state are considered the southern region for terms of this weather forecast.
Counties that are to the right of the same diagonal are considered the northern region for the terms of this weather forecast.
In the northern central area (includes the counties of Burke, Mountrail, Ward, Renville and western Bottineau), it will probably be drier than normal to mid-July.
“The north central region of the state is currently experiencing topsoil that is drier than normal, and when the topsoil is drier, you can expect drier than normal precipitation that will continue to mid-summer,” he said.
In the south of the diagonal area, the forecast for precipitation is for “normal to wetter than normal conditions.”
Looking at the entire summer, which would include July, August and September, Akyuz says there still wouldn’t be any skill to determine the temperature.
He forecasts that temperatures will have an equal chance of being below normal, normal, or above normal, but with precipitation, there will be wetter than normal conditions - at least in the southern areas.
“The trend for the southern (of the diagonal) portion of the states is to have wetter than normal conditions,” he said.
However, the counties north of the diagonal line will have and equal chance of normal or more rainfall in the mid-July to September timeframe.
“These counties end the summer with above normal precipitation,” Akyuz said.
In counties north and east of the diagonal, the forecast cannot be defined - precipitation could be lower than normal, normal, or higher than normal.
In early fall, the El Nino will strengthen and now, skill can be applied to the forecast.
Temperatures in the southern region are expected to be above normal in early fall.
Temperatures in the northern regions have an equal chance of being below normal, normal or above normal.
“When we go a little further out to the winter, the precipitation is expected to be leaning to an equal chance of below normal, normal or above normal,” Akyuz said.
However, temperatures in the southern region of the diagonal will have less than a 40 percent chance of having above normal temperatures, but a little better than an equal chance of above normal temperatures.
In the northern region, temperatures have a greater than 40 percent chance of above normal winter temperatures.
Meanwhile, planting has started for a few producers in April.
Producers in parts of the southwestern region of the state started planting April 15.
“Producers have been out planting canola, peas, and spring wheat,” said Duaine Marxen, NDSU Extension agent in Hettinger County, based in Mott.
Up in the northwestern region in Burke County, Dan Folske, NDSU Extension agent, said producers have been out planting peas.
“A few have started planting, but most are putting down fertilizer. There’s a lot of fertilizer going down,” Folske said.
Danielle Staub, NDSU Extension agent in Williams County, said producers were busy planting wheat and pulses.
However, producers were out of the fields for the snow and rain, which occurred the beginning of the last week of April. Most areas experienced cold weather with a snow/rain mix and temperatures dropping into the 20s-30s.