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Young says snow a 'godsend' for wheat PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, February 13, 2014 9:11 PM

BY STEPHANIE GROVES

Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — This has been one harsh winter season with temperatures holding in the negatives and an over-abundant amount of snow. Van Wert County Ohio State Extension Educator Dr. Curtis Young said the snow has been a benefit to the winter wheat crops.

“The extreme cold temperatures could have been detrimental to the crops,” Young stated. “The snow has been a godsend since it acts like a insulation blanket.”

 

Young explained that winter wheat germinates in the fall and then goes dormant. He said if it survives the winter, it will then green up and begin to grow.

 

“Will it survive?” Young asked rhetorically. “There’s no guarantee and we will have to wait until spring.”

He said the growing part of the plant (stem) is right at the soil level and if exposed to the ambient air temperatures with the snow as a buffer, that part of the plant would have frozen.

“The blanket of snow held the ground warmth beneath it and close to the stem of the plant,” Young said. “Recharging the soil with moisture for plants to utilize will be very beneficial later in the growing season.”

Young said hay crops overwintering in the fields will benefit as well.

One negative aspect to the consistent cold weather is there are no freeze-thaw cycles (FTC).

“Without the cycles, we don’t get the soil breaking up,” Young explained. “It almost acts as a roto-tiller breaking up compacted soil from harvest season.”

Young said there are compromises one way or another.

He said another aspect to watch for is the effect the winter weather has had on the killing off of some agricultural pests.

“The exotic invasive insects — the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) and Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle — may be reduced in population,” Young detailed.

He explained that the stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) has hypodermic-like mouth parts which are inserted under the skin of the fruit. As the pest feeds, it sucks out the juices from the plant and injects saliva, leaving the exterior dimpled and dried with cork-like areas in the fruit, which makes it unmarketable at the retail level. Young said the bug feeds on a variety of host plants including apples, peaches, pears and soybeans.

“We have yet to see big populations of stink bugs,” Young added. “In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, potential fruit and vegetable crops have been reduced by 40 to 50 percent in the past.”

Young said the Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) is a predator and very beneficial during the summer, feeding on aphids and scale insects.

“The beetle invades homes, stinks and bites,” Young said. “They will bite humans and eat fruits when nothing else is around for them to feed on.”

Young said those in the agricultural industry will have to wait and see what effects the weather has had on all these elements.

Last Updated on Thursday, February 13, 2014 9:36 PM
 

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