This week and the next will be filled with more school visits by the Georgia Cotton Commission. One thing that is very obvious from traveling the state is how the weather effects farmers differently in different parts of the state. While most of south GA has been too wet until this past week to do any field work, most of the fields I’ve seen in north GA look ready for field work but the soil temperatures are still to low to do any planting. Everyone knows that the weather plays a major role in the outcome of your farming operation and that there really isn’t much you can do to change the weather in your area. One thing you can do is use the available resources to help you understand how the weather, particularly weather forecast, can help you manage your farming operation. We were fortunate to have Pam Knox speak at our 8th Annual Meeting back in January. Mrs. Knox is the UGA State Agricultural Climatologist. She writes a daily blog about weather and climate. She also has a great website, AgroClimate.org that is dedicated to Southeastern agriculture and the climate. Some of her daily blogs include topics such as how we still have huge dry pockets in GA despite all the rain we have had this spring. Also, she wrote a good blog piece about stressing caution using mobile apps for weather forecast. One very important resource available on the AgroClimate website is how El Nino/La Nina affect agriculture. On the AgroClimate homepage, the Climate Phase Forecast indicates we are in an El Nino year. As many of you know, El Nino/La Nina’s are weather patterns that develop every 4 years or so and can have huge impacts on yields and quality. Some typical things found in El Nino years for southeastern farmers are wetter conditions throughout the year making it hard to get a start on the year and hard to finish out the year because of early fall rains. Interestingly though, cotton yields tend to be higher in El Nino years as indicated by this map. Also, El Nino years tend to be cooler, on average, compared to La Nina years.
Last but certainly not least is the GaClimate.org website. It provides statewide weather information for GA and has the most current data on precipitation, soil temperature, soil moisture, and several other useful data points that can help you make real time decisions on your farm. GaClimate.org basically pulls data from lots of different resources around the state to give you a single source for all of your weather related info.
I would encourage anyone farming this year (or even gardening) to check out some of the links provided throughout this blog to really help you understand how the weather affects your farm and some things that you may can do to plan around weather events.