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A January like no other

By Staff | Jan 20, 2012

For the whole holiday season and the first ten days of January, people in Pierce County enjoyed a balmy, warmer and drier than average fall and early winter. Local residents almost called the snowbirds to tell them to come back home.

The temperatures have been above normal since November, according to Bruce Allen, official weather recorder for this area. And up until January 10, there was only a trace of snow recorded in January of 2012. In fact, on Monday, January 9, the temperature was close to 60 degrees. A sign at the bank showed 59 degrees in late afternoon.

People here were beginning to talk about not enough moisture for spring planting.

What?

After the last growing season when the fields were too wet to plant or even get into and the harvest which had to work around standing water at times, it seems impossible to be concerned about it being too dry.

“It’s a little premature for people to be talking about drought,” said Carter Medalen, agronomist, Farmers Union Oil Co.

Concern had been expressed that with a lack of snow, how would crops fare this spring? Also, with the temperatures being warmer than average for this time of year, would the winter wheat crop get confused and think it was spring and come up too early.

Not to worry, says Medalen, “It’s too early to make any predictions.”

He speculates that the county will start off in the spring with enough moisture because of the moisture already in the ground. “As we get closer to spring, if we are dry, we can reassess,” he added.

Corn is one of those crops that doesn’t like drought, yet many farmers have not changed their plans to plant corn next growing season. So much can happen with the weather and ground conditions before spring, it is just too early to tell.

In the meantime, winter returned this week with a vengeance as local residents knew it would. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the temperatures were hovering at 9 below zero in the morning and by early evening they had dropped to a -13. Severe cold warnings were issued throughout the area to last into Thursday. During the night, it was expected to be in the 20s below range. Snow was also part of the equation as snow covered the ground and needed to be shoveled.

Still, there are only about 6-8 weeks of winter left, Get out the seed catalogs.

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