The El Niño weather pattern responsible for so much moisture across such a wide swath of the U.S. weakened to moderate strength in March. Most popular models predict it will basically disappear within the next few months.
According to the World Meteorological Organization:
- Further decline in strength is expected over the next few months, but considerable uncertainty remains regarding the timing and rate of decay. Nonetheless, the most likely outcome by mid-year is considered to be near-neutral.
- The period March-June is a particularly difficult time of the year for forecasting tropical Pacific developments, and while near-neutral is considered the most likely outcome by mid-year, it is still considered possible for El Niño to persist or for the early stages of a La Niña to be present by midyear.
- Impacts of the current El Niño are expected to continue to be felt in many parts of the world through at least the second quarter of 2010. This is because impacts on many climate patterns both close to and remote from the Pacific, can occur even during the decay phase of an El Niño event.
Winter wheat – 65% in Good to Excellent condition, 22% more than last year. In Kansas, the largest winter wheat-producing state, 69% of the crop was reported as Good to Excellent, with minimal disease, freeze, insect or wind damage evident. Elsewhere, warmer temperatures coupled with adequate soil moisture levels in Texas led to improved crop conditions, although stripe and leaf rust prompted fungicide applications in areas of the Blacklands.
Sorghum – 16% is planted, which is 1% behind last year and 3% behind normal. In Texas, wet fields and abnormally cool temperatures throughout much of March delayed the start of planting, pushing overall progress, at 37%, one week behind normal. Improved growing conditions in recent weeks promoted crop growth in the Coastal Bend and aided emergence in South Texas.
Oats – 33% of planting is complete, which is 3% ahead of last year and 2% ahead of the five-year average. Seeding was complete in Texas, where 11% of the crop was at or beyond the heading stage.