Effects of the Snow Storm

April 25, 2018

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Spring is underway with temperatures increasing after blizzard Evelyn made an appearance this past week.  Throughout the growing area anywhere from 18 to 30” of snow piled up over a 48 hour period as well as much of the area spent the day prior watching the rain come down.  The rule of thumb for snow to water ratio is that one foot of snow equals about one inch of water accumulation.  So what does this mean for the alfalfa forage growers?

All plants need moisture, but long term ponding can lead to long term damage. Fall new seeding is the most susceptible to these conditions.  They haven’t had the chance to increase their root strength giving them the unlucky straw. Dormant established alfalfa tends to stand a better chance of surviving this period than actively growing plants. This is because the respiration process during dormancy happens at a slower rate, sort of cushioning the anaerobic environment due to the ponding above ground. As far as the weather is concerned our nights look to stay above freezing from here on out so we don’t foresee heaving as a major problem.  The damage from ponding could show in the alfalfa as: root rot, weed issues, weakened nodules and asymmetrical growth.

Winter wheat falls into the same health concern category as alfalfa during this time of the year. The key to winter survival in winter wheat is a healthy crown. If you come out of the spring with saturated soils but your wheat has a strong healthy crown they should recover nicely.

If there is any concern about your alfalfa or winter wheat, reach out to your agronomist for a stand assessment and management opportunities for the upcoming season.

Article by Amy Bastar, Wrightstown Agronomist

Sources: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/newsreleases/2009/april-20-2009/flooding-impacts-winter-wheat/