I spent the day down in Tifton attending the UGA Cotton Growers Workshop and Cotton Association meeting. Lots of good information and interesting people to talk to! I presented two sessions on the climate of 2014 and the outlook for 2015.
I’ve posted my summary for 2014 on this blog already, but let me briefly tell you what I expect for this coming growing season. With the chances for an El Nino rapidly diminishing, I now expect to see neutral conditions for this coming growing season. In neutral years, the chance of a late frost is higher than in other years. This is less important for cotton than other crops because of when it is planted, but it is something to keep in mind if you grow vegetables or fruit. In this year of high variability there is a good chance we will see a warm spell early in spring followed by a frost, so don’t be too eager to plant. Neutral years have increased chances of tropical storms and hurricanes, which could increase rainfall in mid to late summer and on into fall. Of course, this depends on exactly where the storms go, and that is not predictable so far ahead. Soil moisture looks good across the state going into the next growing season.
Agroclimate.org is a great source of information on what kind of crop yields to expect under El Nino, La Nina and neutral conditions. The map below shows the cotton yield by county for neutral conditions. In general, areas in yellow are near long-term average yields, while reddish colors indicate lower than average yields and greenish colors indicate higher than average yields. The small inset bar graph compares the yields for Clarke County GA, just for comparison. You can check your own county under various scenarios and crops at https://agroclimate.org/tools/Regional-Yield-Maps/