Weird weather affecting crops

Golfing, wave runners and blooming forsythia. Those are often considered evidence of spring and summer. But it’s January. The unseasonably warm weather may be considered a blessing for outdoorsmen and plants. But farmers say the weather is not good for their crops.

Wheat, alfalfa and other crops that grow through winter months, need snow and colder temperatures. But with only a trace of snow this season and temperatures in the 50s, farmers are wondering how their crops are going to turn out. Tina Lust farms soy and corn. Lust is also a certified crop advisor. She said some farmers are worried about their summer harvest. “There is some concern with the wheat crop, you know, if there’s a potential for heaving. And that’s when the plant, through freezing and thawing cycles gets forced out of the ground just through natural causes. There’s been farmers wondering how that winter crop is going to fair with no snow cover on it,” Lust said.

A National Weather Service meteorologist at Wilmington, Brian Coniglio, blames the warmer than normal temperatures on El Nino.

“What we have is an El Nino this year. And what that is, is some warm water in the Pacific Ocean, and the warm water causes the jet stream to change its course,” Coniglio said.

And Coniglio said it does not appear the mild weather will give way to freezing temperatures, giving farmers and their crops a break. “We’re still going to have a few days here and there where we’re going to get winter weather, but we’re looking at, generally, overall it’s going to remain mild,” Coniglio said.

Mike Dailey, a certified crop advisor for Central Ohio, said the lack of snow coverage means crops may not grow correctly next year. Dailey said during the fall harvest heavy farm equipment compacts the soil, and freezing and thawing are thought to help loosen the ground. But so far this year, that process has not happened. And the possible problems don’t stop there.

“It doesn’t help, also, that we’re having no cover and warm weather because the soil insects will live through the winter,” Dailey said.

Lust said the last mild winter she remembers was about ten years ago, and she expects similar problems.

“Possibly more insect pressures next year, and just more diseases that we haven’t seen before because of not having that heavy freeze cycle,” Lust said.

For those who are not farmers, Coniglio said to value the unseasonable weather.

“I would say that everybody should just kind of enjoy this winter. And it much easier to get along in life when you don’t have to worry about it snowing,” Coniglio said. Central Ohio forecasters predict temperatures will start to drop Sunday night, and highs will be in the upper 30s Monday and Tuesday before milder temperatures return once again.

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