Ag Weather Center-white.png

Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 3-13-23 at 6:30PM EDT

Winter making a second appearance

The official data has been released and we just saw our second warmest winter on record in Kentucky (December - February). I repeat....SECOND WARMEST! Putting this number in perspective, this is now a 128-year record with data going all the way back to 1895-96. With that being said, seeing a warm winter in Kentucky isn't entirely new to the area. Below is a look at the top-10 warmest winters ever recorded in Kentucky. Five of the top-ten have occurred since 2011-12. Oh and by the way, there not in the top-10, but 2018-19 places at #17 and 2021-22 at #19. While our climate has been trending warmer on a annual basis, many are seeing the same shift on a seasonal basis, too!

I'm sure many of you are with me and enjoyed the warm air, but on the other side of the coin, it's not necessarily a good thing for agriculture. As we're seeing across the state, vegetation has advanced much further in development compared to where it should be at this time of year. In just one example, some fruit trees are blooming across the state, putting them at risk to some very cold nights ahead. How cold? The next couple nights will feature low temperatures dropping well into the 20s and some locations even in the upper teens. Below are a look at those forecast low temperatures each night from the National Weather Service.

Unfortunately, this isn't going to be the end of the cold air. Following a brief warmup on Wednesday and Thursday, another cold front swings through the area on Thursday night and into Friday. This, in turn, takes temperatures back in the wrong direction for the upcoming weekend. Look for highs falling back into the 40s again and low temperatures in the 20s on Sunday morning. The 6-10 day outlooks below, valid for March 19th through the 23rd, then keeps the cold air in place for at least another week. Again, this cold air is here to stay for awhile. Darker shades of blue equals high confidence in below normal temperatures.

You may notice that freeze warnings are in place across Tennessee tonight and not in Kentucky. These headlines (freeze warnings and frost advisories) are based on agricultural susceptibility. If it weren't based on agriculture, we'd be seeing these headlines issued many times throughout the winter season. Talking with some specialists across the state, there's not a whole lot out there that is at risk to freeze damage AND can be protected. In doing so, we've decided against issuing headlines at this time.

Saying that, there are some peaches and plasticulture strawberries that could be at risk. There's not much that can be done to protect our peaches. If you do have plasticulture strawberries in bloom, UK fruit specialist, Dr. John Strang, says you'll want to protect with some floating row covers. One cover for temperatures down to 24 and two for temperatures below 24. If you have matted row strawberries, those should be fine with a layer of straw.

Looking at the winter wheat crop, the fall drought and Arctic air in December, actually helped us in terms of freeze risk. As Conner Raymond and Dr. Carrie Knott explain in their latest article, How Could the Potential Warmest Winter on Record Affect Kentucky’s Wheat Crop?, the combination limited excessive growth of the crop. In turn, winter wheat isn't as advanced as what it could have been.

Sign up for the Ag Weather Update

National Weather Service Briefing Slides

Kentucky Forage News- UK Forage Specialists, March 6, 2023

March 3, 2023 High Winds & Severe Storms - National Weather Service, Louisville, KY

Severe Storms, Flooding, and Strong Gradient Winds on March 3, 2023 - National Weather Service, Paducah, KY

March 3: Powerful Storm System Brings Damaging Winds - National Weather Service, Jackson, KY

Warm early spring means early Eastern tent caterpillar egg hatch - Holly Wiemers, UK Ag Communications, March 6, 2023

Preemergence Herbicides for Kentucky Lawns (AGR-272) - Cheryl Kaiser, UK Plant Pathology Extension Support, and Kenneth Clayton, UK Turfgrass Extension Associate, February 28, 2023


Email  Twitter  Web