State Climatologist Dave Robinson of Rutgers University says the latest drought monitor issued Thursday morning puts North Jersey in the “D-1,” or moderate drought category… The combination of the lack of rainfall and the warmth has really depleted the water supplies,” Robinson said… Robinson said most of New Jersey can be characterized as abnormally dry, after very little rainfall in May and very warm temperatures. He said the state is on track for one of the warmest and driest Mays on record.
Dominick Mondi, executive director of the New Jersey Nursey & Landscape Association says sure, your place will look prettier but there are other reasons to plant things around your home… Mondi said thanks to a grant from the USDA, this is first year the state has had the opportunity to really roll out the “Plant Something” initiative here in New Jersey… The New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association has built an informational website, plantsomethingnj.org, for residents to learn, research and find professionals. Mondi said they are a few months into the launch of the website. “We have fact sheets from Rutgers University Extension posted on there, as well as information from other sources,” he said.
There’s a new strawberry in town- well, in 13 towns- and it’s said to deliver a better flavor to the taste buds than the strawberries New Jerseyans have been used to for years… A product of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, the Rutgers Scarlet strawberry had been 10 years in the making, and people are finally starting to get their hands on it… Researcher Pete Nitzsche said farmers in New Jersey, for years, have been growing strawberries meant to withstand lengthy shipments and the California climate. “They had a decent taste, but not the best,” Nitzsche said… The team arrived at the final product after multiple breeding attempts, crossing the characteristics of different plants until the stars aligned perfectly. The Scarlet may be the first in a series; the team is currently working on other varieties at the research farm.
New Jersey has not seen a soaking rain since April 20 and 21 and while the northern part of the state is the driest right now, the entire state could use a steady downpour… “We’re in an extended spell without much rainfall. A drought, no. Abnormally dry, yes and particularly in the north,” said David Robinson, New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University. “What that means down the road, it’s too early to tell. A drought is one of these things that sneaks up on you. It’s not like a big rainstorm where you know it’s there and with temperatures at or above normal and relatively little humidity, we’ve got to keep our eyes closely fixed on the rain gauge.”… While Robinson believes it is too early to worry about a potential drought, he does recommend we just be aware of what is going on atmospherically, especially when it comes to the fire danger and the fact that the planting season is underway and the irrigation season is getting off to an early start.
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection says bear/human encounters were up 52 percent in 2014, with a total of 2,836 incidents, compared to 2013, when there were 1,870 bear/human encounters. This year, however, the NJDEP is reporting a 35 percent decrease in encounters so far… “With an expanding population, the number of complaint calls have been increasing steadily over the years,” said Brooke Maslo, PhD., an extension specialist in Wildlife Ecology at Rutgers University… According to Maslo, spring brings the availability of more food for bears… “You have livestock being born, lots of babies, potential prey for black bears, and of course the needs of the young are demanding energy and time. But I would say that that probably the most active for a black bear would be in the late summer or early fall, as they are preparing for the winter dormancy period,” Maslo said.
If you spent any length of time outside during the month of February, chances are, you felt the bone-chilling cold. In fact, February 2015 will go down as one of the coldest on record… “We have statewide records that go back to 1895, and we are neck and neck right now with 1979 as being the second coldest February during that 121 year period,” said Dave Robinson, New Jersey State Climatologist at Rutgers University. “We’re 4 degrees away from February 1934, which was the coldest of any month.”… During the morning of February 21, the southern part of the state was exceedingly cold. It was 12 below zero in Berkeley Township, Ocean County and 7 below zero in Woodbine, Cape May County. A few days later, on February 23, Walpack, Sussex County went down to minus 20, Kingwood, Hunterdon County registered at 14 below zero and Hope, Warren County was minus 12.