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Valuable Weather Information for the Agriculture Community

Monday, April 24, 2017 to Friday, May 5, 2017


Anyone who works in agriculture knows that the weather can make or break your year. Most farmers, ranchers, and foresters use a variety of government and private weather sources to find out how much it rained or what the weather will be like tomorrow. Few probably realize they have a home-grown weather and climate resource in their own state. 

This resource is called a state climate office (SCO). SCOs gather and archive weather and climate information and possess expertise that is provided for decision making within state agencies, businesses, and the general populous. The state climate offices in New Jersey and Delaware, as well as many other states in the Northeast, are situated at land grant universities. They are led by appointed state climatologists who are recognized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Delaware and New Jersey SCOs operate weather meso-networks (mesonets) that provide high quality weather data for farmers and other users. Mesonet stations record a number of common climate variables, such as air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and barometric pressure. They also record other variables that impact crops, including solar radiation, and soil temperature and moisture. Delaware’s 57-station mesonet is called the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS). New Jersey’s 66-station mesonet is called the New Jersey Weather Network (NJWxNet). Both networks measure and disseminate weather conditions in real time every five minutes. Data from mesonet stations are relayed to their respective state climate offices, where they are checked for quality and provided to the public ( for New Jersey and for Delaware). All data are archived for use in various types of applications, including several focused on agriculture.

In Delaware, two decision support tools have been developed for agricultural purposes; one for irrigation scheduling and the other for managing downy mildew risk in lima beans. Both tools use the high quality data provided by DEOS to deliver daily information about crop water requirements and disease risk for farmers’ fields. In addition, DEOS provides agricultural weather data such as daily reference evapotranspiration and growing degree days across Delaware and southeast Pennsylvania. NJWxNet data are provided to the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) at Cornell University. NEWA uses the data to support integrated pest management and other best management practices.  Another NJWxNet effort involves the maintenance of a Fire Danger Monitoring Console. The console uses meteorological and fuel moisture data to alert fire management officials to conditions that may impact scheduling of controlled burns, as well as information regarding fire threats and active fire fighting efforts.

For more information, contact your SCO!  Help support and expand the use of climate data in your agricultural community.

By the Delaware and New Jersey State Climate Offices

  • Dr. Daniel Leathers, Delaware State Climatologist, Professor, University of Delaware                                                                   
  • Dr. David Robinson, New Jersey State Climatologist, Professor, Rutgers University