If you’ve happened to go outside in much of Canada the last couple of weeks, you’ll be well aware of the bone-chilling cold that gripped parts of the country over the holidays. For some, the cold halted plans, while others merely took more time to don more layers, or scheduled an urgent meeting with their travel agent. For the agricultural community, it has certainly inspired some questions.
Our resident agronomist, Peter Johnson, joined host Shaun Haney to address some of these questions in an agronomic update this week on RealAg Radio (click link to listen).
“From an agricultural standpoint,” Johnson said, the cold “really does have some concerns and some benefits.”
The big benefit, according to Johnson, is the affect cold can have on insect pests of crops.
“When it goes into that -10/-15 zone for long enough, then a lot of the soil insect pests don’t survive that very well. So we would hope that a number of those pests would be reduced in numbers this year.”
“Why do we call it a blanket of snow? ‘Cause that’s exactly what it is. So just because it’s -40 when you go out on your snowmobile (or decide that you’re not going out on your snowmobile), underneath the snow we…aren’t having the impact we would maybe want to have on those soil pests.”
On the other side of the coin, low temperatures can negatively impact overwintering crops where the ‘blanket’ of snow has been uncovered — another good reminder of the importance of stubble to catch and hold snow. Wheat markets, particularly in Kansas City, have rallied on concerns about winterkill in the last week.