Hodgenville, Ky., farmer Ryan Bivens experienced a unique weather event for his area during the end of February into early March — not one, but two snowstorms, which produced more than a foot of the white stuff at his place. Two weeks ago, the total was 15 inches. This week, the total was 12 to 15 inches — after rain and ice.
“Our place is about 12 miles from where the national news showed Interstate 65 shut down,” Bivens said. “I’ve never had snows like that.”
To make an obvious point, the late-winter and early-spring snowstorms have put Bivens’s spring field work and corn planting on hold for much of the remainder of March. And the snow is not the worst of it when it comes to wet soils. His area had almost 3-plus inches of rain before the snow, Bivens said. “Fields were soggy to begin with.”
Bivens figures he is two weeks behind in his field work and needs that length of time for the ground to dry. “The snow will go off quick … but two weeks without anything (precipitation) is the bare minimum” to dry soils, he said.
Kentucky, of course, is not alone in having to dig out from under record snow and ice. A large swath of the southern and eastern U.S. — from Texas to New England — was hit with this over-the-top precipitation. The large-scale pattern has DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino’s full attention.
“This pattern is inverted,” Palmerino said. “You have the cold air and the heavy snow and ice where you would normally not expect it to happen, in the south. And then, in the north, it’s drier and warmer, with more of that set to move in during the weekend.”
Whatever the description, Bivens has seen this spring delay before. “This will be the third year in a row that I haven’t planted anything in April,” he said. “It gets so cold and wet, I’ve just waited.”
Grain market reaction to this slowdown in field work is difficult to gauge. Still, DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom thinks there could be some attention to this wet southeastern Corn Belt pattern reflected in the December 2015 corn futures contract. “It might support the new-crop market a little,” Newsom said. DTN Analyst Todd Hultman also thinks trade reaction will be lukewarm regarding the harsh conditions. “The heavy snow could have a minor bullish effect on new-crop prices,” Hultman said.
For Bivens, the main thing is to be patient, with the results of the past two seasons — when planting was late — fresh in his memory. “I had my best corn ever in 2013, and beat that by five bushels (an acre) in ’14,” he said.