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June 13, 2016

What NOAA’s Official “La Niña Watch” May Mean for California Producers


How fertility choices impact 2016 performance and profits NOAA

Producers in the state are on high-alert when it comes to weather pattern predictions since experiencing the most severe drought in nearly 120 years of record. After four years of subnormal precipitation and above normal temperatures during the wet season, a domino effect has begun to occur in the state. This is due in part to the La Niña effect, which is a slight tilt towards dryness during the wintertime. This year, a strong El Niño brought some relief, with extra moisture from the Pacific. However, now that California is in an ENSO-neutral period (where neither El Niño nor its sister, La Niña is present) producers are looking to what will happen next. 

What will it take to end the drought?

David Miskus, senior meteorologist and lead drought contact at the Climate Prediction Center, explains that California needs several years of above-average precipitation and seasonable temperatures to end the drought. “If the winter temperatures are too mild, the precipitation would fall as rain in higher elevations, eating away at any snow in the mountains,” says Miskus. “This is okay for filling reservoirs and rivers, but it can hurt the spring snow melt and ultimately not impact drought conditions. For chances at removing or greatly improving long-term drought conditions, California is in need of several years of close to above-normal winter precipitation – including the Sierra Nevada snowpack and seasonable temperatures.”  

Specialty crops are hypersensitive to high chloride

In 2016’s June update, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a 70% probability of La Niña occurring this winter, meaning the drought will likely continue based on historical weather data. If that’s the case, challenging growing conditions will continue for California’s specialty crops, such as tree nuts, fruits and vegetables, which are especially sensitive to high levels of chloride. Without water to leach the already-present chloride from the soil, extended drought periods result in a profusion of concentrated chloride. Build-up of chloride in a plant's root structure blocks the uptake of essential nutrients that are critical for crop health and growth.

Protassium+ - the K source solution

While growers can’t control the rainfall, they can choose fertilizers that do not contribute to increased chloride levels in the soil, such as Protassium+TM sulfate of potash from Compass Minerals®. Protassium+ has less than 1% chloride and the lowest salt index per unit of K20 of all major sources of potash. With virtually no chloride, Protassium+ gives crops an advantage, especially in areas with drought challenges, highly saline soils, or poor quality irrigation water. These conditions make Protassium+ sulfate of potash ideal for California growers looking to protect crop performance and profits.

To learn more about Protassium+, call 1-800-743-7258.