Could brutally cold temps impact spring planting season?

Experts say deep frost could have an impact but too early to tell

Spring is right around the corner, but the brutally cold temperatures have some wondering if the winter weather will cause a delay in the planting season.

La Crosse farmers don’t seem too concerned about the cold temperatures because they are still in their winter season. La Crosse County UW Extension agent Steve Huntzicker said it’s too early to tell if the farmers will be ahead or behind coming into the planting season. However, it’s clear that farmers don’t want a repeat of last year.

“Last year was a real early year, but then it was pretty wet,” said Molly Breslin, an organic grain and dry bean farmer.

Breslin has only been farming for about four years, but she knows what’s best for her crops.

“Ideally it would dry out enough for us to plow down our cover crops like in April, because then we have to wait awhile for the cover crops to decompose before we can plant,” said Breslin.

But everyone knows, you can’t control Mother Nature. Last year, the rainfall made farmers play the waiting game.

“Most of our crops went in in June of last year, where ideally they would have gone in early to mid-May,” Breslin.

“That had the biggest effect. When we get late into the spring or the actual summer and we are trying to still get some of the planting done,” said Huntzicker.

This year, Mother Nature threw a curve ball. Huntzicker said one of the biggest factors is the frost.

In some parts of the state, the frost hits depths of about 5 to 6 feet.

“it’s been a long time for the frost being this deep into the ground so the waiting period is going to be something we are not as familiar with in the past seasons,” said Huntzicker. “It’s going to take some time for that to be released out of the soil.”

If farmers are forced to play the waiting game again, Huntzicker hopes it’s not for too long this time around.

“A week or two shift is probably not as much of a detriment to producers as far as getting the crop in, it’s really when we have long durations where we can’t get out into the fields and get all the crops in,” said Huntzicker.

Farmers will have a better idea about the upcoming planting season in a couple weeks as the snow pack begins to melt and the temperatures start to warm-up.

Huntzicker said the soil needs to hit about 50 degrees or higher before much of the planting can take place.