Wide Variability in Spring Forecast

The updated seasonal drought outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for either continued or enhanced drought through the spring west of the Mississippi River.

DTN seasonal forecast maps indicate similar conditions in the outlook.

Spring soil moisture — or the lack of it — is high on the list of concerns for Dennis Todey, director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa.

“If you’re in a very dry soil area right now, I would be in some level of increased concern,” Todey said. “If your soils are in pretty good shape, I wouldn’t sweat things too much at this point.” Todey also differentiated between irrigated and non-irrigated areas in the drier-outlook states. “One thing is you have to consider where you are. If you have irrigation, drier conditions in spring are maybe not a big consideration. If you’re dryland (non-irrigated), it’s more of a concern,” Todey said.

However, the prospect of being forced to irrigate just to maintain soil moisture is not an idea that Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen likes to think about. Hansen said in dollars and cents, there’s a big difference between using irrigation to augment timely rains compared with irrigating to replace a shortage of rainfall.

“High pumping years are seldom high profit years,” Hansen said.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter at @BAndersonDTN

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