A Hoochie Papa Cajun hibiscus blooms as green-thumbed locals shop for spring ?flowers and plants on Tuesday at Greengate Garden Center in Lake Charles. According to Daniel Chimeno with Greengate, one should be cautious about placing Cajun hibiscus immediately in direct sunlight. It should be introduced to full sun slowly, over a period of eight to 10 days. Also, it must have a well-drained, moisture-retentive soil, he said. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 9:55 AM
Spring begins today with very “spring-like conditions,” a local meteorologist said.
A high in the 70s is expected for today, the first day of spring, and similar highs are expected the rest of the week.
Through the spring, though, temperatures are expected to be “considerably above” average and rain levels “slightly below” normal, said Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles.
Farmers are hoping what they’ve seen of late continues.
“We’re kind of happy the last two weeks that we’ve had some dry weather,” said Jimmy Meaux, LSU AgCenter county agent. “Probably people have noticed a lot of farmers working in the field.”
Meaux said farmers are planting rice and that home gardeners should begin planting now.
“It’s looking like a good spring,” Meaux said. “If we get these little showers every so often, it will be OK.”
Meaux said the rain and frost forced the spring grass to come in a little late, causing cattle farmers to use hay longer than expected.
Overall, though, “we’re really not too far behind. They’re happy they can get in the field and start planting.”
Portions of the winter were wet — rainfall in winter totaled 17.65 inches, and January saw a rainfall total 6.15 inches above the norm.
Warmer-than-average spring temperatures will be a continuation of what the area saw in winter. Temperatures hit a low of 31 on four days — Dec. 27 and 30, Jan. 17 and March 3.
“We didn’t have (cold weather) that was really significant,” Jones said. “From about the beginning of the year until now we have seen warmer-than-normal temperatures, by about 3 to 5 degrees.”
Whether the cold lasted long enough to significantly lower the number of insects remains to be seen, Meaux said.
“Seems like the longest cold snap we had was in March,” Meaux said. “We did have some cold weather, but I don’t know whether it was long enough to reduce the numbers like we’d like to, but we haven’t had many calls yet.”