« Western Michigan Weather News

Ag. Weather Outlook 2-14-2014

by Tim Abramowski

Lots of questions these days deal with agriculture’s prospects once the snow is history.  According to MSU District Extension Fruit and Marketing Educator Bill Shane this winter’s seemingly unending chain of storms has provided protection for parts of plants under the snow.  He says this is particularly helpful for more tender crops like blackberries, vinifera grapes and hops.  Shane says even if plant tops are winter damaged they can sometimes re-generate from lower sections protected by snow.  As for a good early indicator of the season’s impact – Shane says keep watching forsythia.  The plant’s bright yellow blooms are often the first shot of springtime color in your yard or across the rural landscape.  Where snowfall covered forsythia there’ll be the normal flowering…but above snow line where it was exposed you won’t see flowers due to cold damage.  You may also see lasting effects on an orchard’s tree trunks caused by solar reflection off the snow heating the southwest corner of the tree.  Shane says once the sun sets a rapid temperature drop may kill growing tissue under the bark causing the tree to have a flattened appearance.  By the end of the month warmer air flowing toward Michigan should remove some of the snow enabling you to scout for the season’s effect on your property.

Rick Shields