The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

February 10, 2011

Cold temperatures could still have damaged wheat and canola, despite snow cover insulation

ENID — Snow cover is helping to insulate crops in northwest Oklahoma, but extremely cold temperatures could cause some problems.

Jeff Bedwell, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service agriculture educator for Garfield County, said the snow will help insulate some crops while providing them moisture. However, the below-zero temperatures Thursday morning in the county may have done some damage to the winter wheat and canola crops.

“Last week’s temperatures and the low temperatures this week may have a bigger impact on potential winter kill than the benefit from the moisture we’ve received,” Bedwell said.

He said the extension office has seen some heavily grazed wheat that has had white stems.

That’s a pretty significant concern, Bedwell said. He also said the combination of topsoil already being dry, along with the cold temperatures, could cause freeze damage in areas that are bare and open.

But the snow that is deep and covering crops in some areas will keep them from being damaged further.

While winter wheat is the major crop, canola also is being watched carefully by area farmers.

Bedwell said canola is getting ready to break its dormancy phase and, hopefully, begin growing soon.

“If we see an absence of growth or white, decaying plants, then we’ll know we have issues,” Bedwell said.

But, he said, the snow cover still should benefit a majority of the canola plants in the area.

There is good news for farmers who are worried about the cold temperatures continuing for the next several days. Temperatures are forecast to continue to warm into the upper-30s and even into the 50s by Sunday.

“The next seven to 10 days we’re supposed to have above-average temperatures, so that will allow us to dry out,” said Mike Honigsberg, director of Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management.

The high temperature for today is forecast to be 38 degrees, according to National Weather Service. The forecast high for Saturday is 49, and by Sunday the temperature will reach 58 degrees.

As the snow melts away and the ground begins to dry, Honigsberg said there once again will be a fire danger.

“(Regardless) of what they say about fire danger, until the foliage starts turning green, we’ve got a fire danger,” Honigsberg said.

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