Snow keeps wheat safe

Staff writer

For winter wheat crop, snow helps with preservation, but not necessarily because of moisture.

Extension Agent Rickey Roberts said when snowfall from the past week melts, the county may receive only three-quarters to half of an inch of moisture into the ground.

“I think this snow’s greatest benefit to us is it really acts as kind of an insulation to the ground, and it protects the wheat from the bitter cold weather,” he said. “It’s like a blanket.”

While he did say any moisture would help keep cold air from penetrating the ground, the snow helps to protect the wheat’s crown root.

Damage to the crown root does not usually happen in Kansas weather, but recent temperatures and the “polar vortex” earlier in the winter could have had an impact.

“Those are probably two of the coldest stretches we’ve had around here in a long time,” Roberts said. It isn’t often that that happens.

“There was a lot of concern of could that have hurt our wheat crop,” he said. “Can it? Yeah. Did it? I don’t really have an idea.”

Roberts said wheat is a tough crop, but it can be susceptible to winter kill if exposed to cold weather too long.

“When soil gets dry, that’s when the cold air really gets down into the ground, and it makes the ground bitter cold,” he said. “That’s when we can see problems.”

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