I don’t think we’ll be drilling soybeans or planting corn in Southern Nebraska anytime soon. What a difference a year makes; last Spring we saw record heat followed by widespread extreme drought.
Soil temperatures in my area are hovering in the low 40s. Besides getting rid of the snow, we need warmer weather to increase soil temps to the 50s for planting to begin. I prefer to check online sources for soil temperature, but if you wish, you can follow the rule of thumb the old guys joke about: “If you can pull down your pants and sit in the dirt without getting cold – it’s time to plant corn.” Your choice… but I’m not going to try that one!
With a job so dependent on Mother Nature’s mood swings, snowstorms in April sure make life interesting. However, any true Nebraskan knows there is no such thing as “normal” weather. An average temperature for April 18th is in the mid-60s. What that really means is that we see weather in the 30s and in the 90s in the month of April. It doesn’t seem like we hit the average that often, because out here, we specialize in extremes! I remember snow on the tulips for my Dad’s April 29th birthday when I was a kid. I also remember my brother’s April 6th wedding with highs in the upper 90s.
Did I mention the wind? No Nebraska Spring is complete without a few days with wind advisories, as in winds over 40 to 50 miles per hour. (Typically, these days can be anticipated by checking the calendar for track meets and soccer games.) This year, we’ve had extra special events we’ve named “Thundersleet” and “Snice.” It’s always fun to hear thunder during sleet and snow. What my son named “Snice” is actually graupel, that is, snow encapsulated in ice. It looks like hail when it comes down, but piles up like snow. Whatever it’s called, I’m ready for winter weather to be done for awhile.
Sometimes I think there are fewer farmers today than in years past just because there aren’t many of us who wish to endure this crazy weather. However, in all seriousness, this weather also leads to crop failures which were even more devastating in the days before crop insurance and other risk management tools.
As Mr. Corn Farmer says, “Never underestimate the power of the American Farmer!” While prices can fluctuate when planting delays threaten, what’s truly amazing is that one swing of the weather pattern from cold-and-wet to warm-and-dry will likely find that farmers will get the crop in the ground with amazing speed.
In my mud room, the flip flops and the snow boots are sitting side by side. Despite the snow drifts in my back yard, I’ve already mowed my yard twice this year. After last year, we’re thankful for any bit of moisture, whether it’s rain, snow, sleet, or graupel. And any day now, it really WILL be planting season.