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“Super” El Nino

One of the more common talked about weather topics these days seems to be the formation of the “Super” El Nino.  This change in ocean water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean can have significant effects on our local weather (and weather worldwide) and local growers should at least be aware of what to expect as we move into harvest time and the upcoming winter months.

Below is some selected excerpts from an article written by David Zierden, Florida State Climatologist, that discusses the upcoming El Nino is detail.  The entire article can be found at


“While El Niño is already impacting summer patterns in the Southeast, more profound and predictable changes are on the horizon for the region as fall and winter approach. With the changing of the seasons, the jet streams over North America begin their yearly migration south and become more of a player in the passage of weather systems (like low pressure storms, cold fronts) from week to week. El Niño modifies the usual jet stream patterns and favors a strong subtropical jet that steers frequent winter storms, drenching rains, and cooler temperatures over the northern Gulf Coast and peninsula of Florida. The frequent rains usually commence around November and persist throughout the winter and into the month of March. However, the onset of the El Niño rains is hard to predict and can begin as early as the first week of October, as happened in 2009.”


“Cotton, peanuts, and soybeans are some of the primary crops here and they need to be harvested in the fall of the year. Even more challenging is finding good weather windows to dry dug peanuts and defoiliate cotton fields. September and October normally bring the driest weather of the year to this region, so it is imperative harvest progresses as quickly as possible during good weather windows before the frequent rainfall from El Niño sets in later in October or November.

Following harvest, cover crops should be planted as early as possible to provide erosion protection from the anticipated heavy rainfall events.

As winter transitions into spring, cover crops can be left growing longer to accumulate biomass and to remove excess soil moisture through evapotranspiration. Early planting of corn in the first week of March may be delayed with the predicted abnormal rainfall, and cloudy skies and cooler temperatures may delay growth.”