Relihan: Drought to Continue in 2013, Abate in 2014

We asked Nicole Lane, Kansas Wheat’s communications intern, to write about one of the hottest topics of the 2013 Kansas Commodity Classic, held Jan. 17 in Manhattan: the 2012 drought. Here is here blog entry.

Dave Relihan
Dave Relihan

At the Kansas Commodity Classic a group of hopeful farmers gathered to hear meteorologist Dave Relihan deliver news on the status of the drought. His report was not what the agriculture community was hoping to hear: the drought of 2012 will continue into 2013.

Relihan is one of the state’s most visible and trusted weathermen, working for the Kansas Agriculture Network and WIBW Radio and Television for more than 30 years. This current drought has been one of the most significant in the last 60 years…but there is some hope.

Relihan told farmers that this spring will bring rain, but probably not as much as farmers wish. In order to return the soil moisture profile Kansas would need a year like 1993 when the precipitation levels skyrocketed. However, a year like 1993 is not in the forecast. Instead, farmers can expect only slight improvements in weather compared to 2012.

Wheat farmers were given a sliver of hope when Relihan said, “There will be enough spring rain to sustain a wheat crop.” However he believes fall crop producers are going to be in trouble again.

Currently the world climate pattern is neutral.  A change from neutral to a mild El Nino is what would help farmers of the Midwest obtain the yields they need. The Midwestern states are currently suffering from the effects of the climate pattern La Nina. As La Nina fades and El Nino comes into effect the conditions are expected to improve.

No one knows when this drought will be over; Relihan says it is massive and has a life of its own. However, he encouraged farmers that by 2014 we should be moving out of the dry weather phase. If farmers can survive this year of tough weather conditions better and much needed wetter seasons are on the horizon.

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