By Clint Thompson
It is never too early to start thinking about what Southeast vegetable and specialty crop producers can expect with this winter’s weather conditions. It is expected to be warm and dry.
Pam Knox, University of Georgia Extension Agricultural Climatologist, believes another La Nina winter is likely, which would have implications for peach growers, who need chilling hours; farmers who must manage whitefly populations; and any producer who has vegetables in the ground.
“Right now, we’re just on the verge of going back to a La Nina. Typically, in nine out of 10 years, La Nina means warmer and drier conditions than usual, especially in South Georgia, Alabama and Northern Florida. Last year was the one out of 10 years that didn’t really match that. That was mostly because of February when we had a cold outbreak in February,” Knox said. “Statistics says we should expect to see warmer and drier conditions than usual overall this winter. We’re not quite there yet but all the signs are there. In another two to three weeks, they’ll probably call it as La Nina. They said there’s a 70% to 80% chance of having one over the winter. Those are pretty good odds.”
Winter usually lasts from December through February.
Winter is also a time when the soil moisture gets recharged due to rainfall. If that’s not expected to happen this year amid La Nina, growers will need to depend on the moisture already present, which is currently a lot following a wet summer. But conditions could change this fall.