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2024 Lake Erie Algal Bloom Forecast

NOAA Predicts Mildly Severe Algal Bloom for 2024


The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) has released its forecast for the 2024 Lake Erie algal bloom.  

The bloom is expected to have a severity index of 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. This prediction is based on multiple models that take into account phosphorus loading into the lake during spring and early summer. 

Due to a wet weather pattern in early spring, water flow in the Western Lake Erie Basin was higher than normal in March and April. As a result, NOAA forecasts a "mildly severe" algal bloom. 

Jordan Hoewischer, director of water quality research with the Ohio Farm Bureau, noted the importance of the timing of spring rains and nutrient applications.  

"Heavier spring rains occurred before nutrients were applied to fields for the 2024 growing season," Hoewischer explained. He emphasized the need to monitor the bloom throughout the summer to understand the impact of nutrient loads. 

Hoewischer highlighted the role of cover crops, promoted through the H2Ohio program, in maintaining soil and nutrient stability. The latest data from the Lake Erie Commission shows a downward trend in dissolved reactive phosphorus loading since 2015. 

Hoewischer praised Ohio agriculture's efforts in reducing nutrient loss despite increasing rainfall events. He urged farmers to work with local Soil & Water districts and explore H2Ohio options to protect both soil and water quality. 

The expansion of the H2Ohio initiative and the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative certification program are helping farmers adopt better nutrient management practices. These efforts aim to improve water quality across Ohio. 

NOAA will release the final statistics for the 2024 algal bloom in September.

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In the Field Update

Video: In the Field Update

We were joined by Nebraska Crop Producer Kevin Siffring at his farm near Rising City, Nebraska.