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USDA Meteorologist Talks With Producers "In the Field"

Posted by Brenda Chapin, Office of the Chief Economist in Research and Science
Jul 01, 2014
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Ever wonder how USDA is able to make a forecast – either economic or weather?  It takes a lot of work.

Last week, USDA’s U.S. meteorologist Brad Rippey met with producers in southwestern Michigan. The first stop, on a rainy, stormy morning, was with Bryan Bixby, owner of Bixby Orchards in Berrien Springs.  Bixby described how spring wetness has been detrimental to fieldwork and crop quality.  For example, wet, humid conditions shortened the southwestern Michigan strawberry season and reduced fruit quality.  In addition, wetness has impeded Bixby's efforts to complete soybean planting.  During a tour of his orchards, Bixby described how the recent winter was Michigan's harshest since 1976-77, causing substantial mortality in peach trees -- requiring him to buy peaches from South Carolina in order to meet customer demand.

Rippey also visited the television studios of AgDay and U.S. Farm Report in South Bend, Indiana, where he met WNDU Channel 16 Chief Meteorologist Mike Hoffman.  Both meteorologists toured local fields in southwestern Michigan and responded to producer questions on weather.

Row crops, such as corn and soybeans, were planted later than average in southwestern Michigan, but are generally growing well.  However, pockets of excessive moisture remain a concern in some areas.  From a national standpoint, corn and soybeans are generally performing well, despite local problems, with nearly three-quarters of both crops rated in good to excellent condition by USDA.  During the question-and-answer session, the meteorologists fielded farmer queries ranging from weather prospects for the remainder of the summer to the potential impacts of El Niño on Midwestern climate.

All of this helps inform our forecasting, which helps inform you.

To read USDA’s Weekly Weather and Crop bulletin, please visit:

Category/Topic: Research and Science