Cold Spring, Wet Winter Could Hurt Upcoming Crops

With the wet winter behind us and a seemingly cold spring ahead of us, farmers are beginning to grow a little concerned of the possible negative effects these weather patterns could have on this year’s crops. Chad Rushing with Purdue Extension told WKVI that the main issue is soil temperatures; the cold winter and cool spring has lowered soil temperatures and farmers are still waiting for those to warm back up.

“The big concern is going to be soil temperatures. That cold winter, in combination with the cool spring we’re experiencing, it’s going to take a while for soil temperatures to warm back up and that could potentially could delay planting later on into the spring planting season. In addition to that, with the moisture challenges – obviously excess moisture creates its own set of challenges on top of the cooler soil temperatures – with the wet ground, it’s not good for a lot of the spring farming activities, whether it be tillage, fertilizer application, herbicide applications, things like that. Those could all be delayed as well because of the wet soil conditions,” said Rushing.

Right now, Rushing said it’s difficult to predict how bad off the planting season could be. He said a week of good temperatures – those in excess of 60 degrees – could quickly change the soil temperature and improve anticipated crop yields. He said that while the planting season is starting off cooler than last year, it all depends on the weather.

“So, it’s tough to say that we’re worse off. Obviously we’re starting off at a cooler place than we have in years past – years like 2012, for example, we were out there about this time of year doing work and this year, they don’t even know if they’re going to get out there by April 15 at this point. So, I doubt there’ll be too much planting before May, but like I said, all of this depends on what kind of weather we get over the next two to four weeks. That could all change if we get a quick warmup,” Rushing explained.

If the spring stays cool, Rushing said it could potentially have a large impact on the upcoming crop. He said the longer planting is delayed, the bigger the risk of hotter temperatures negatively affecting the growth and development of soybeans and corn.

“You push that back into the hotter times of the year and the plants are going to be under more stress during those vital times, so that’s kind of the big concern there on impacting crop yields. If they are delayed in planting, they’re probably going to have more challenge growing conditions because they’re going to be growing in hotter weather, in July and August, in the crucial times, instead of like last year, where some were able to get into some of those times in early July and temperatures were still cool and they were able to capitalize on that. We could see opposite growing conditions this year because of delayed planting,” Rushing said.

An additional challenge posed, Rushing said, is that the cold and snow cover may cause reduced vigor of the wheat crop this spring.