A vegetable farmer pointed out to me recently that “rain” is a four-letter word and that like other ones, he likes rain to fall in just the right amount and at just the right time. Well, although we can’t control when, where, or how much rain will fall, many people in agriculture and the area known as climate services are working to develop reliable forecasts of and effective responses to current and future weather.
Shared commitments to that goal were evident throughout the recent Climate Services Summit (https://climate.osu.edu/news/byrd-center-hosts-ohio-climate-services-summit) coordinated by the State Climate Office of Ohio based at The OSU (https://climate.osu.edu/). Just as important, steps to providing farmers and others with better decision-aids also became clearer through discussions at the program. Ohio State University Extension contributes to the process – for example, see resources, programs, and input offered by Aaron Wilson, Jason Cervenec, and John Fulton – and addressing weather-related challenges and needs of vegetable growers will be important going forward. These were summarized well in two recent reports (https://www.climatehubs.oce.usda.gov/archive/sites/default/files/Midwest_Climate_And_Specialty_Crops_2015_508.pdf and https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/15448) but more input is always welcome.
Throughout much of this field planting season, many have needed to scramble, improvise, and work round the clock to get work done as weather, soil, labor, and other conditions allowed. It seems that most have experienced the dark side of their share of passing fronts, with few farms experiencing clear skies and calm winds for extended periods. Overall, this seems consistent with information in http://glisa.umich.edu/media/files/GLISA%202%20Pager%202019.pdf (GLISA also participated in the recent Summit). Field and high tunnel plantings have been affected in their own ways by recent conditions, although it is fair to say that most high tunnel plantings were able to remain on schedule, an important early step toward a successful season. Ideally, we will soon see that high tunnels are just one of many key tools available to help maintain and enhance vegetable production amidst changing and increasingly extreme conditions.