Warmer Temperatures Bring Concerns for Winter Wheat Growers | VideoCliff Naylor | 1/16/2012
Last winter, Wes Andrews` field was covered by a couple of feet of snow. This year he is able to walk though his winter wheat. On closer inspection, he can even see green growth, and that shouldn`t be happening in January.
"I don`t think I`ve ever seen it this green, once in awhile you`ll see some green spots but not like this," Andrews said.
Andrews says that so far this winter, temperatures have been in the 40s, 50s and even the 60s and he`s concerned the warm weather might cause the crop to come out of dormancy and expose it to winter kill. "It needs snow to protect it from the cold is what it needs more than anything."
Bowman County Extension Agent Andrea Bowman agrees but is cautiously optimistic about the chances this crop has of making it through the rest of winter, if it gets some snow cover.
"If you dig around the crowns you do see some growth and there might be pockets where the crop isn`t dormant, but overall at this point we`re anticipating that the crop is dormant."
Bowman says that because of excellent soil moisture conditions, area farmers planted more winter wheat than ever before last fall. Now, all of it is in jeopardy if it doesn`t snow.
"Typically we would like at least a few inches out here, probably six to eight inches of snow would be ideal to give us some insulation, the last couple of years we`ve had plenty of insulation so we know that it can happen here."
Winter wheat is most vunerable to crop damage in North Dakota in early spring. "That`s when a lot of our winter kill happens in our winter wheat crops because our soil temperatures tend to fluctuate a little more and we have more sunlight and higher air times, if we don`t have cover at that point I think we need to be more concerned," said Bowman.
Until then, farmers can only wait and hope a lot more snow falls on top of the state`s winter wheat crops.