Dryland Nebraska farmer Jason Kvols said he's not surprised by the dismal three-month forecast released Thursday by federal climate scientists and meteorologists.
Drought is likely to continue well into the planting season in Nebraska, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.
Iowa was luckier: The odds slightly favor wetter than normal weather for the eastern half of the state.
Kvols, a board member with the Nebraska Farm Bureau, said he and other farmers have been planning for continued drought.
This year, Kvols said, he'll plant fewer corn seeds per acre so that each plant will get more of whatever water is available.
He'll also split his 700 acres evenly between soybeans and corn — something he'd rather not do. Soybeans aren't paying as well as corn, but they're more drought-tolerant. In a normal year, given current prices, he'd be planting more corn.
Like other farmers, Kvols said, he's also budgeting more money for a higher rate of crop insurance.
In the central and southern Plains — which include Nebraska — the self-perpetuating nature of drought is working against the prospect of rain, said Anthony Artusa, a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center.
Artusa said extreme, even exceptional drought has become entrenched in the central and southern Plains. Since dry ground heats up more quickly than wet ground, already dry soils predispose the air to warm up faster.
Also, the seasonal shift into spring, with the rapidly increasing angle of the sun, seems to reinforce this tendency in the Great Plains, Artusa said.
Eastern Iowa is part of a larger area in the north-central United States that could see a wetter than normal end to winter and start of spring. The area involved stretches from the northern Plains across the Great Lakes and south into Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society also released its three-month forecast Thursday.
Globally, the north-central United States, eastern Brazil and Indonesia are among the few places projected to be wetter than normal. The Southeastern and Southern states are in the bull's-eye for a drier than normal three months.
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