December 23 – Winter Wheat’s Cure to the Coming Cold Snap

Blankets are going to be needed this weekend across the American Midwest. For winter wheat crops, however, they could use an entirely different type of blanket.

This Christmas weekend isn’t going to be pleasant across the Midwest.

Here in Chicago, we’ve double-insulated the windows and invested in purchased extra blankets.

For crops, however, they could use an entirely different type of blanket.

Reading the insight from Rush Beck at South Dakota State University, it’s be nice if the upcoming weather had some snow on the ground ahead of time.

Beck, an agronomy field specialist, says that volatility in cold temperatures (a sudden, sharp downturn) is less preferred than slow declines in temperature.

The warm weather we’ve seen so far is poised to give to cold temperatures like the ones in the forecast.

Beck argues that snow is critical to ensuring the protection of the winter wheat crop from the bigger temperature dips.

Incoming snow not all bad for winter wheat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. ( – Winter is on our doorsteps with cold temperatures and a blanket of snow that looks to hit the region on Thursday.

But that’s not all bad according to Ruth Beck, SDSU agronomy field specialist.

Before it gets too cold, Beck said they like to see a layer of snow on the ground because it helps insulate the winter wheat that was planted this fall.

“That’s one thing that’s growing out there right now, and we’d like to see it get slowly colder so it tends to go dormant for the winter. That’s the idea,” Beck said of the winter wheat that was planted this fall. “We like to keep all of the winter wheat alive through the winter.”

Beck says because of the unseasonably warm winter the area has received so far, there can be some wide swings in the temperature moving forward. That can jeopardize the winter wheat, which is why the snow cover is important. If the area continues to have a warm weather over the next few months, winter wheat could be in trouble.

“Sometimes we get those warm January days, and then we might get a dip in the temperature,” Beck said. “That can cause some winter kill in the wheat. It’s nice to get that snow cover so we can cover those big dips in temperature.”

Beck says if the warm winter weather continues, it shouldn’t affect corn and bean production in the spring.

“We can definitely use some moisture for sure. That would help those crops,” she said. “But the nice thing about the long fall is that most people in this area got all of their crops combined and were able to do some field work, like spraying for the annual winter weeds that can set in. They germinate in the fall and are the first ones to start re-growing in the spring, and they go to seed pretty quickly.”

H/T: KELO 1320AM
About the Author
Garrett Baldwin

Garrett Baldwin is a content strategist and editor at FarmLead. He covers the global grain markets and public policy issues related to the agricultural industry. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Economic Policy from The Johns Hopkins University, an MS in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University, and an MBA in Finance from Indiana University.