Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snow Cover on the Winter Wheat

Above:  Remember last October when we planted winter wheat? Click to visit the day we seeded with the new Amity Technology Twin Disc Air Drill.
Today I am going out to check the snow cover on the field.
Above:  It may seem unlikely when you first think about it, but snow provides warmth to the developing winter wheat plants. It works like insulation in the walls or ceiling of a house. Adequate snow cover is essential to winter survival of the crop.
Above:  I inserted a measuring stick into the snow at various spots on the field. Notice how there are patterns in the snow on the ground. These are miniature drifts of snow caused by wind. The drifting makes the ground look like a fallen cloud or a birthday cake with fluffy frosting.
Above:  In the open on top of the rise, you can see that there is a six inch blanket of snow covering the field. Snow is made of tiny water crystals that hold air between the flakes. Snow cover holds the natural heat from the earth in the ground and keeps that heat from escaping into our very cold air. The blanket of snow stabilizes the ground temperature. This allows the winter wheat roots to live despite the extreme cold of the air temperature.
Above:  Here there is  a little more snow. In this cold and windy place, snow usually falls in dry flakes and blows around. It is too cold and powdery to stick together and you cannot form a snowball with it. The snowflakes blow into drifts and swirls as illustrated in the previous photos and can be moved again by another strong wind. This is ground drifting. The warmth emitted by the sun's rays are helping the snow to settle. It will not blow around very much after forming a crust on top from warming and cooling of the air temperature. Generally we have about a six inch blanket of snow on our winter wheat field, which is sufficient for now. 
Above:  I drove around to show how the snow has accumulated on the Northeast side of this field. It is over two feet deep in most places near the trees. The trees block the wind enough to cause some of the snow to drop out of the air as it passes. The result is more snow near the shelter belt.
Above:  We had a nice surprise this afternoon. The forecasted high for the area was 29 degrees fahrenheit and GriggsDakota is usually under that temperature. This afternoon it felt like Springtime!
Above:  A January thaw is welcome, especially so early in the month. By stopping the snow from blowing around, it makes winter a little easier, at least until the next snowstorm.
Red Sky Tonight, Farmer's Delight
even in January.

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