How, When, and Why of Forest Farming

Unit 2 : Site Assessment and Non-Timber Forest Crop Selection
Section: 3.2


Remember that the term macroclimate refers to large scale regional weather conditions and long term weather trends. We distinguish this from microclimate, which refers to shorter term, more localized fluctuations in weather. Since both affect the climate at your site, both are important in crop selection.

For this section become familiar with the resources below or find comparable information sources for the state your site is in. This and section 3.2 will help you complete workbook pages [8-10].

The most direct way to characterize macroclimate is to consider how each of its major components – temperature, precipitation, and light have behaved “historically” at least over the past 5 to 10 years. The National Weather Service and other organizations collect raw climatological data and make summaries available to the public regarding high, low and average temperatures, rainfall, number of frost free days, date of first and last frost, etc. Keep in mind that conditions at your particular site may vary from regional averages based on factors affecting microclimate. None the less, regional climate summaries from selected weather stations near you can be useful in the process of crop selection.

Meterological Resources

Availability of historical meterological records is uneven among Northeastern states. The most comprehensive information is available for Pennsylvania through the Penn State Climatologist. For New York and other Northeastern states it is more difficult to look up information for each of the categories in the table below.

PennsylvaniaNew YorkNorth East
Monthly Minimum Tempterature
  •  Penn State Climatologist
    The Means and Extremes section shows graphic summaries of variation in each of these meteorological categories across the state.
Not Available
Monthly Number of Cloudy Days Not Available
Monthly Precipitation Not Available
Monthly Relative Humidity Not Available
Growing Season Length Not Available
Last Spring Freeze
First Fall Freeze