WXXI AM News

Milder Weather OK For Farmers...For Now

Dec 15, 2015

You've probably enjoyed the mild early winter weather, and we know winter is coming. For area farmers, an extended fall allowed many to recoup crops planted late following a wet spring and dry summer.

Credit Krenzer Farms

Bob King, director of MCC’s Agriculture and Life Sciences program, says "We have what we call a hard frost during the fall...and we didn't experience that until late in the fall, so that went a long way for farmers to be able to recoup a lot of their potential losses that they could have incurred if we had had an average fall."

He says farm fields could use a hard freeze.

"The freezing temperatures actually break up that compaction on the ground which helps aerate the soil and allows water to penetrate."

King adds the cold can kill some pests and diseases and the snow melt in spring can improve conditions for planting.

"So, when farmers are working the ground, they're planting seed - that actually provides enough moisture for real strong germination for those plants, to help get out of the ground."

If our milder weather lasts into January or February, King believes it could have an impact on plants, particularly perennials, but not yet.

"What happens is the warmer temperatures and the longer sunlight that we start getting in January and February can actually fool a plant into budding. When it buds and we get some kind of color being shown on the tip it becomes especially susceptible to freezing temperatures."

King says as an example, we could see winter injury to plants and fewer blossoms on tree fruits.