Arctic Air Bites Winter Wheat

By Steve Jackson

Growers of winter wheat in Eastern Washington are concerned about how the cold snap will affect their crops. In Eastern Washington, many wheat growers plant a crop late in the fall that comes up before the chilly winter temperatures arrive. Usually the crop receives a layer of insulating snow before the colder temperatures arrive. But this year, the arctic air mass arrived before the snow.
 
Ritzville farmer Eric Myer says not only are the single digit temperatures a threat, but now they’re worried about gusty winds that are moving in to the region. He says “with this ambient air temperature the wind is really cold anyway and what happens with the wheat plant is it can’t hydrate itself fast enough, so it will actually desecrates the pant, and if we through in little blowing dust, that just complicates things all the more.”
 
Myer says other variables like soil moisture and the hardiness of the plants this year have been good, but the real test will be how long and fast the winds blow. If they gust 20-30 miles per hour for as long as 24 hours, with the extreme cold, they may cause damage.
 
Myer says most farmers probably won’t be able to tell the damage done until the plants start to come back after the spring thaw.
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