Farmers hope to benefit from the mild weather and melting snow

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

Our largest snow pack of the year hasn't been around long but Tuesday’s 50s are marking the beginning of the end. So how will the mild weather and melting snow impact farmers? For many folks they hope this kind of weather sticks around, especially, our area farmers who are hoping for another good year.

"We have had mild winters before but this is unreal," says Buffalo County farmer Bill Traun.

Usually we have to look back several months to find our last 50 degree plus day…this year, the last time was early January.

Jerry Clark is a crops and soils expert with UW-Extension and says the melting snow will be good for the very dry conditions we've had since august. The good news is for most areas frost depth isn't that deep.

"There will be runoff. We can't avoid that unless we really warm and the frost will come out quickly. So we're going to lose some of this moisture but for the most part with the heavier snow we had a week ago we hope that most of that will find its way into the ground," explains Clark.

He says after the snow melts the key for the upcoming growing season will for the weather to stay mild. "The worse thing I think that could happen now is if we would loose the snow cover and get really cold temperatures...maybe close to zero where the perennial crops like clovers and alfalfa would suffer."

Despite the snow melting we will still need precipitation in the next couple months. "The sub soil moisture is what is going to become critical. So as soon as things dry out, we are going to need some rainfall coming into March and April to try and get that sub soil saturated."

He says if not we'll likely be in the same boat as Minnesota and develop a drought. However, Clark says most farmers he's talked to are optimistic about the growing season

Now what about area rivers like the Chippewa River? Hydrologists at the National Weather service don't see flooding being an issue as the snow melts since we have been so dry. They believe river levels will rise but well below flood stage.

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