Thursday, January 5, 2012

Has Snow Covered the Winter Wheat?

 As I wandered out this morning, I could tell the days are longer. The sun is up in the sky sooner, but not early. I have not paid much attention, lately, except to confirm that the weather has been lovely.
I tend to fret about the Winter Wheat this time of year. Is its snow blanket warm enough to provide the protection it needs? January and February are often brutally cold in GriggsDakota and a warm blanket is absolutely crucial for every living creature that hopes to survive until Spring.
Our temperatures have only plunged slightly below zero on a couple of mornings so far this Winter. A welcome and delightful phenomenon.  The Winter Wheat can survive that without much snow cover. 
But we expect real cold to arrive any time the wind shifts to the Northwest.  Tolerance to the cold is what allows the crop to survive. The Wheat can survive as long as the ground temperature surrounding the plant roots in the field remains above Zero degrees Fahrenheit. 
Snow cover is crucial.
Winter Wheat makes me nervous. It's easy to believe that only weeds survive out in the elements. Thanks to diligent research, there are now cold hardy genetics in Winter Wheat. It is still not raised commonly in our area.
 I noticed a pickup with a yellow flasher on top. I have always wished I had one of those flashing yellow lights for my pickup. People involved in temporary construction projects tend to clamp a light on top of their truck and drive like a rocket. I would like that privilege, as well. Is my business really less important than theirs? But I digress...
 Following this pickup was a semi trailer load of Grain Bin Hopper Bottoms. The wide load requires an escort in front and back of the truck. Okay, maybe I don't need a yellow light for my pickup.
Back to the snow cover. There is more snow out here than I imagined. It is thick enough so that I doubt it will all melt in January's weak sunshine, but our temperatures will melt some of it. It appears to be adequate to protect the roots from damage, even if our temperatures plummet.
The rain and warm temperatures have crusted the snow, but is not a solid layer of ice. This is good as the roots of the Winter Wheat need to breath. Air travels through snow, not through ice. 
I use my boot to chop down to the ground. I see some green, even above the ground. 
There are deer tracks here and there in the field. They walk on top of the snow cover, breaking through just a little with their delicate hooves.
The trees provide protection from the wind and there is plenty of food for the deer. 
So far, all is well with the Winter Wheat in GriggsDakota.

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