by Lisa Tome
Last year was the hottest year on record.
That's what Dr. Sara Via from the University of Maryland told a group of Cecil farmers last week.
They probably already knew.
Dr. Via was one of 10 speakers at the annual Cecil County Winter Agronomy meeting held January 25 at Calvert Grange. This event provides farmers with training they need to maintain nutrient application cards and nutrient management credits. "2016 was the hottest year ever since they began recording it in 1884," said Dr. Via.
She said the "new normal" of hotter weather is caused by warmer air, warmer oceans, more water vapor in the air, and a higher sea level. "We are having more extreme temperatures than in the past," said Dr. Via.
She also said that in winter, temperatures are warmer. Spring comes earlier and the summers are hotter. Spring and fall are rainy and the summers are drier.
"The average temperature in Maryland has gotten warmer in the last 30 years. Now we have many days over 100 (degrees)," she said.
All that heat can impact the growing season. The longer frost free season means that trees and plants bloom earlier.
In New York, apple trees are blooming eight days earlier than they did just a few years ago.
"Warmer winters impact insects. They come earlier, survive the winter, and there are more generations of them (surviving)," Dr. Via said. "Farmers need to be more vigilant with insects."
In all, more than 80 local farmers signed on for the morning and afternoon classes. Steve Krauss of Port Deposit was one of those who attended Agronomy Day. "I'm learning a lot. I've been to a lot of meetings in the last few months," said Krauss.