Spring Sprung Late in U.S. Plains, Midwest as South Blooms Early

(Bloomberg) -- Spring 2019 is a late bloomer.

Across much of the Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast, the first green burst of spring was about a week to 10 days late, according to the USA National Phenology Network, which tracks the natural calendar of plants and animals reacting to changes in the seasons. Only in the South did the season get an early start based on 1981-2010 averages.

“It’s just been slow to achieve the warmth needed to trigger leaf out and flowering plants,” said Theresa Crimmins, the Network’s associate director based at the University of Arizona.

Spring Sprung Late in U.S. Plains, Midwest as South Blooms Early

The cool temperatures along with rain and even snow in some places haven’t just held back nature. Corn, soybean and cotton planting are all lagging the five-year averages through April 29, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Heavy rain in the central U.S. in the next 15 days probably will muddy fields, miring planting progress.

“It is pretty wet for the next 15 days,’’ said Don Keeney, senior agricultural meteorologist at Radiant Solutions in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “We are going to have some serious trouble getting corn and beans into the ground.’’

The Network’s indexes -- one for leaves and another for flowers -- are based on temperature, said Crimmins. There has to be enough heat to get the shrubs to put out leaves and even more to coax them into flowering. When the flowers on the shrubs emerge, the trees above them usually start leafing out.

Like the leaf index, the spring flowers are also lagging the long-term average throughout the Great Plains, Midwest and parts of the mid-Atlantic. The South from Louisiana to the North Carolina coast actually bloomed about a week to 10 days early. Parts of the Appalachians and Pennsylvania and New Jersey are also seeing earlier flowers.

Spring Sprung Late in U.S. Plains, Midwest as South Blooms Early

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