Wanted: More Snow For Soil Moisture

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Living in an area of the country nicknamed “The Snow Belt,” I don’t actively pray for much of the white stuff during the winter months. Thanks to being situated on the eastern side of Lake Erie, our area annually receives around 100 inches of snow. In fact, when I returned from a business trip last week, there was a new base of 12 inches-plus in many parts of our area.

But the situation this winter is much different in other parts of the country. Last week, I attended the annual Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) meeting in Peoria, IL. As usual, the weather was bone-chillingly cold – in the single digits for highs. What was missing was the snow.

Normally, your typical IFCA time in Peoria includes a couple of inches of snow, either falling during the meeting or already present in shoveled/plowed piles throughout the area.

But this wasn’t the case this year. In 2013, Peoria (and much of Central Illinois) is snow-free. And to ag retailers and their grower-customers, this presents a potentially big problem.

Throughout the “I” states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, snowfall amounts seem to be severely off from prior years. “In our area, we’ve seen maybe an inch of snow all season,” said one ag retailer from Central Illinois. “That’s down from our normal this time of year, which is in the 20 inches range or better.”

For growers, this lack of moisture on the ground will undoubtedly lead to less moisture for their crop fields. And as ag retailers point out, little or no soil moisture come spring is likely to severely dampen any fertilizer application work during the early spring months.

So here’s hoping Mother Nature comes through with some snow/cold rain over the next couple of weeks. Given how 2011 and 2012 ultimately played out for the nation’s agricultural community, the last thing we need is another uneven weather year in 2013.

POLL: Has snowfall been normal in your area this year?

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.

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