Abnormal Spring Could Complicate Farmers' Growing Seasons - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Abnormal Spring Could Complicate Farmers' Growing Seasons

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Spring is already more than a month in the books, and with temperatures that have been below normal, and rainfall that has been above normal, it could complicate things in the fields.

Add in the occasional night of sub-freezing temperatures and most farm fields seem to be abnormally bare. 

Spring has been interesting. So far, if you remember, Central Ohio had more than 4 inches of snow during the first few days of spring. 

The abnormal temperatures and snowfall made it challenging for those trying to plant new things this season. 

Now, imagine dealing with the weather on a large scale, like a farmer does every season.  Joe Cornely with the Ohio Farm Bureau said, "It's a balancing act. You want to get the crop in as early as you can, but you have to recognize that if you get it in too early and the freeze comes along, you may be forced to replant." 

It's a tough gamble, considering that in past years, the last sub-freezing temperatures have occurred in the first week to the early part of the 2nd week of April. 

So far this year, the last freeze in the city was nine days ago, with many outside the city having back-to-back mornings of freezes at the end of last week. 

Typically, this is Central Ohio's planting season, the time when farmers get their seed in the ground to start those crops. 

With the recent heavy rainfall, including the record set earlier this week, fields look more like ponds, which is going to put a little bit of a delay on the planting season. 

Cornely said that the weather conditions aren't yet and issue as improved technology has allowed Ohio farmers to get crops in the ground quickly, in most cases, in not much more than one week's time. 

The good news at the grocery store, is that the later start of planting does not mean that prices will be higher for food. 

A longer term impact of drastic weather patterns like the ongoing drought in the mid-section of the country is with livestock because corn and soybean crops are used in feed for the cattle. 

Less yield in the crop can mean higher prices for feed.  When the feed costs more, the livestock will cost more down the road. 

"Beef cattle it takes the longest amount of time for there to be an impact. Pork is kind of middle range. [In a] couple of months, you would start to feel it. Chicken, you could feel it tomorrow, because they turn those birds around so quickly," Cornely said.

The good news is that looking at the May outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is that Central Ohio could see near normal temperatures for the month of May, with slightly drier conditions in the forecast for the month.  The outlook through July is for warmer than normal temperatures with near normal rainfall -- good for growing. 

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