Agriculture News

March 9, 2016  

Spring weather outlook: Warmer than normal, but extent of wetness less certain

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Farmers should expect temperatures warmer than normal during planting season just a few weeks from now, but how much rain they might encounter isn’t as clear, the Indiana State Climate Office says. 

The spring weather outlook by the climate office, based at Purdue University, begins with a very warm and wetter-than-normal first half of March.

Expected to follow from the second half of this month through the next several weeks are temperatures slightly warmer than normal, with a mixed signal that suggests parts of the state will have above-normal, normal or below-normal precipitation. Corn and soybean crops typically are planted in April and May.

“Warmer-than-normal temperatures during this period could mean greater potential for storms,” said Dev Niyogi, state climatologist. “But it also could mean swings in very wet to dry periods between heavy rains.”

The climate office issues its season weather outlooks after analyzing data from the U.S. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center .

Although early warm weather might tempt farmers to get into their fields right away, Purdue Extension agronomist Tony Vyn said they should be wary about running tractors and tillage implements in wet conditions, which could cause soil compaction before planting. 

“Warmer early temperatures tend to encourage earlier planting, but don’t compromise soil structure in the rush to plant,” Vyn advised.

Indiana has been warmer and drier than normal this winter in part because of El Niño, a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperature above normal.

This El Niño is one of the strongest on record, said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist. This past December in Indiana was the warmest December on record, at 11.1 degrees above normal. 

The climate office expects El Niño conditions to fade from Indiana in late spring or early summer.

“Even though El Niño is now weakening, its impact should persist a little longer,” Scheeringa said. El Niño typically routes major storms with their heavier precipitation further south across the United States.             

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, 

Sources: Dev Niyogi, 765-494-6574, 

Ken Scheeringa, 765-494-8105, 

Tony Vyn, 765-496-3757,

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

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