Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How is the Winter Wheat Faring?

The Winter has been extreme and I have heard it said that our ground is frozen six feet deep. Is the Winter Wheat going to live through the cold?  According to the NDAWN Site (North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network) our soil temperatures are around 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ground freezes hardest and deepest in the open where it is unprotected by snow. Snow cover provides a blanket of warmth on the ground. How can that be? After all, snow is pretty cold stuff. Snow is insulation on the land and holds  heat in the ground. Near the trees on the above photo, there appears to be adequate snow cover for Winter Wheat to survive. 
 The snow is not evenly distributed over the land. We had cold temperatures before the snow arrived. Winter Wheat is most vulnerable to injury during the cold snaps that occur this time of year. As the sun becomes stronger, the snow on the fields begin to melt. Thinly covered portions of the fields lose their snow cover quickly, the dark soil absorbs the sun's rays, and the plants begin to come to life believing the season has changed. When the weather then turns extremely cold, as it often does this time of year, the plant can be damaged if the crown freezes. 
Do you remember that in Spring of 2013 most of the Winter Wheat failed to establish a sufficient stand? 
  We watched and deliberated for two months before our crop consultant told us it was time to dig it up. We then replanted the fields to corn.
Last Fall we again planted Winter Wheat and it established well. The Winter wheat that is lush and healthy going into Winter has proved tough enough to come through with a crop in the past. Hardy varieties have been developed for our climate. 
It is too early in the season to know what is going on in our snow covered fields. 
Along with a little fretting, Hope Springs eternal in GriggsDakota.

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