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Oklahoma AgWeather: Online Ag Tools

Posted Mar. 12, 2007

Decisions, decisions. Along with other agricultural producers and resource managers, specialty crop growers are constantly making management decisions based on weather. Will it be too windy to spray? Is the soil warm enough to plant? When will I need to irrigate again? Do I need to apply fungicide now or wait? When should I begin scouting for pecan casebearer eggs? When should I apply row covers? These are just a few of the weather-related decisions horticulture crop growers are faced with each year.

Thanks to the folks at AgWeather, decision making has become much easier in the last few years. AgWeather is a cooperative project between Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. The professionals from these three institutions use their expertise in the areas of meteorology, climatology, and agricultural production and natural resource management to develop products useful to the ag community.

You can access AgWeather at agweather.mesonet.org. Once online, you'll have access to Oklahoma weather information that is updated every 15 minutes, thanks to the Oklahoma Mesonet, one of the most comprehensive weather monitoring networks in the world. Mesonet recording stations are spread out over the entire state, and there is at least one station in every county. Data from each station is collected automatically, tabulated and displayed in a wide array of formats and products. The AgWeather folks like to say, "It's weather organized the way you work."

Growers seeking ways to stretch their pesticide and irrigation budgets can benefit greatly using the various models available on AgWeather. The Evapotranspiration Model can help growers track crop water use as an aid in scheduling irrigation. Pumping costs can be reduced and fertilizer leaching minimized when water is applied at the proper time and in the right amount.

Plant pathogenic fungal organisms require the presence of moisture on leaf surfaces for a period of time to be infectious. The pecan scab and watermelon Anthracnose disease models keep track of disease-infectious hours and indicate the best time to apply a fungicide.

The AgWeather model used most by our horticulture consulting staff to advise area pecan growers is the Pecan Casebearer Model. This decision-making tool keeps track of degree days, a measurement of heat accumulated above a given temperature threshold from a specific starting point. Because insect growth and development are temperature-dependent, the casebearer model is able to predict the time to start scouting for casebearer in the orchard.

If you haven't checked out the AgWeather Web site, I strongly encourage you to do so. It truly is a "one-stop shop" to help you make day-to-day decisions.

For more detailed information on the use of AgWeather, call Al Sutherland, OSU Mesonet agricultural coordinator, at (405) 325-3126, or e-mail him at albert.sutherland@okstate.edu.