ST. PAUL — This spring was a doozy and tested even the most patient of farmers trying to get the crop in the ground. Bryce Anderson’s presentation at the Women in Agribusiness Summit on Sept. 26 focused on what happened with the weather this spring and what the weather outlook is for the future. Anderson is the senior meteorologist with DTN — a subscription-based service for the analysis and delivery of real-time weather, agricultural, energy and commodity market information.
“We are in a trend of consistent warming. Greenhouse gas production continues to climb. We are on track to be in the top five years for warmest temperatures,” Anderson said.
While the earth is warming, it’s not heating up as fast in all areas of the Earth. “We have disparity on how things are warming compared to average. The high latitudes are warming up in a rate faster than the south,” Anderson said.
This past spring brought above-average precipitation across the Midwest resulting in a delay in getting in the fields and in some cases not being able to get the crop in. “There was record prevent planting this year,” Anderson said. Even good, well-drained ground was affected this spring. “This year it took no prisoners.”
“Heavy downpours are increasing.” Anderson explained that for farmers that means an investment in drain tiling may be necessary.
“There is climate risk to agriculture,” Anderson continued. “That is evident in nutrient loss due to wet fields and pollination issues in corn because of extreme variability resulting from excess moisture.”
Another effect of what we’ve had to deal with is the reduction of growing degree days. There was deficits of 90 to 150 GDD this year. In the future, Anderson believes that more damaging hail events will occur along with increased humidity. That could lead to greater disease occurrences like white mold.
The weed response to climate change outpaces crops and weed control. An example of that according to Anderson is the insurgence of Palmer Amaranth, an aggressive weed that is native to southwestern United States. Par spot in corn is a new disease now in the Midwest, and is normally found in the south.
Weeds respond favorably to the increase of greenhouse gases.
Examining the raise in temperature has Anderson concerned. “The temperature change rate is outside the range we’ve seen in the past 100 years.” Anderson explained that going forward there is an up to 1.25 degree (Fahrenheit) increase per decade which is three to four times greater than what we’re seeing right now.
“Night-time low temperatures will continue to increase,” Anderson said. When the rain does fall in the summer it will occur in heavier rather than lighter events. That means there’s great chance of erosion and runoff.
Anderson’s suggestion for producers is to diversify your crops if you can. Plant as early as you can and utilize regenerative practices such as cover crops.
Not everyone believes in climate change, but Anderson is hoping that will change as people are experiencing firsthand the results of it as well as all the scientific data out there. “Please accept the science,” he urged.