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After two successive cool growing seasons in the Pacific Northwest, one thing is already clear: 2010 and 2011 this is not. While no one can say with any certainty what will happen next, the 2012 growing season is off to a warm start.

Here a picture tells a thousand words. Current Growing Degree Days (GDDs) and precipitation are tracking closely to historical averages according to Washington State University’s Viticulture & Enology Research & Extension (click on the picture for a larger image of current GDDs). In fact, the numbers are currently close to 2003, a relatively warm year. Looking at the picture, the contrast with 2011 is stark.

Even six weeks ago things looked quite different with low temperatures across the Pacific Northwest and some considering the possibility of another cool vintage. However, temperatures in eastern Washington quickly shot up to 90 degrees and accelerated development.

While some areas in Washington were nipped by May frosts, few expect any significant effects on the 2012 crop, and winter damage was minimal. Notably, however, some growers are still dealing with the after effects of the November 2010 freeze.

Though the growing season is still young, bloom is fast approaching, and after two years of cool conditions, 2012 looks to be a return to ‘normal’ (whatever that means). Of course, things can change in the blink of an eye; this is farming after all which is part of what makes it all so interesting. Stay tuned.

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