A look to late winter, early 2019 planting season weather

When your livelihood depends on the weather, it seems like it’s never too early to start getting a handle on the forecast.

James Garriss, historic climatologist with Browning Media, was a guest presenter at the recent SouthWest Agricultural Conference at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus. RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin had a chance to chat with him about the of weather patterns that are starting to take shape for the upcoming growing season.

Garriss says that the balance of the winter months looks like it could be unsettled. “The big impact that we’re going to have is two-fold — one, we have a very warm Atlantic, and secondly we have polar jet-stream patterns that like to dip into Ontario.” This could produce some rain and snow, but not an overabundance of either.

For now, it doesn’t look like we’ll get a repeat of last year’s weather-related seeding delays. “The good news is, unlike last year, where you had winter snow storms go through April and even May for some regions, that’s mainly going to be the later part of March, or even April,” says Garriss.

The big questions, of course, centre around how the weather is going to affect the crop. According to Garriss. “We’re looking at relatively good soil moisture and a likelihood of good rainfall through the remainder of spring. It won’t be until summertime that I see a bit of problems with warmer temperatures and, not drought per-se, but longer periods between storm activity.”

There has been quite a bit of speculation about an El Niño, and Garriss is quite sure one will be declared. “Well there is a 90 percent chance that we will have an officially declared El Niño sometime this winter, likely February,” he says.

But, Garriss says, the impacts of the El Niño will be modest, and short-lived. “Because of the warmth that you have in the Atlantic and the fluctuations of the jet stream patterns, and the fact that the El Niño’s going to be weak and only last through spring at the most, we’re not anticipating it to dry out things as much.”

Hear Bernard Tobin’s entire interview with James Garriss, historic climatologist from Browning Media below.

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