Blizzard impact on early planted small grains


Blizzard impact on early planted small grains

A blizzard over the weekend interrupted an otherwise mild start to the 2020 growing season for much of the Upper Midwest.

University of Minnesota small grains specialist Jochum Wiersma says he’s hopeful the damage to early seeded crops will be minimal.

“That snow cover acts as an insulation for the soil.”

He tells Brownfield spring wheat, barley, and oat seedlings are vulnerable when soil temps drop below 28 degrees.

“And the ground temperatures at an inch or inch and-a-half might not even dip below 32 at all.”

Wiersma says the biggest threat right now is cold water being taken up by the seed.

“The cells aren’t actually divided yet. That’s when the seed is the most prone to freeze damage.”

He says the fastest way to find out if the crop is still viable is to dig up some of the seeds and place them on a wet paper towel at room temperature.  If there is damage, the seed should turn to mush within 24 hours.

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