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Ag. Weather Outlook 1-29-14

by Tim Abramowski

It’s the coldest winter since --- you fill in the blank.  For MSU Extension Educator Mark Longstroth ‘1994’ is the response.  That was his first year on the job in Michigan.  It was a winter where readings fell into the minus twenties.  These frigid January days Mark is fielding lots of reporter’s questions asking how subzero mornings are hurting ag prospects.  His reply - the best chance for real damage comes when it gets too cold too early or, too cold too late in the winter or early in the spring when plants start to emerge hearlding a new production season.  Right now nothing much is shaking in the plant world above ground so there’s not too much to easily damage.  As conditions allow – Mark says you can examine cuttings of plant tips by carefully slicing open buds to see if there’s brown inside indicating death from the bitter cold.  He says he doesn’t worry until temps drop to around minus 10 - or worse – minus 15 or minus 20.  Apples and cherries can handle very cold temperatures and should not have been hurt. However, he says cold-tender crops like peaches, blueberries and wine grapes might experience a short year in 2014 from several rounds of bitter cold so far this winter.  You can bring your questions about anything ag or gardening related to Kalamazoo Valley Community College during Ag Action Day on Friday for answers from the likes of Mark Longstroth, Linda Whitlock, or Bruce MacKellar.  It’s an all-day event starting at 8AM.