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Good news, bad news

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Mild winter weather has a downside

By Dave Bell

The good news: We haven’t had any really cold weather this winter.
The bad news: We haven’t had any really cold weather this winter.
Though a mild winter like the one we’re having is comfortable for humans, it also allows bugs and diseases to survive over the winter months.
“We really need a few days of single-digit temperatures to kill off the insects and diseases that overwinter here,” said Fayette County Farm Bureau manager Ron Marshel. “Unless we get that, we could see increased insect problems and increased plant diseases next summer.”
Though there’s still plenty of winter left, Marshel said that extended forecasts aren’t predicting any significant cold spells, at least in the last half of February. Weather predictions for that period call for lows around 27 and highs around 58 degrees.
“The farther we progress into February and March, the more unlikely our chances of getting really cold weather,” he said.
Precipitation levels are also a concern.
“We’re still in a moisture-deficit situation, because we just haven’t had the snow or the rains,” Marshel said. “We may get some rains here and there, but without the snow, we’re still likely to come up short.”
Though Vandalia received about an inch of snow Monday night, it wasn’t around long enough to provide the protection it offers to winter wheat plants.
“Winter wheat really needs a blanket of snow to protect it from really cold temperatures,” Marshel said. “We got down to 14 degrees for a few days last week, and without the snow to insulate it, some of the winter wheat probably received some damage. We won’t know the extent of that damage for a little while yet.”
And, with highs predicted to reach into the 50s, Marshel said that there’s a chance the wheat could emerge from its dormant state too early – further exposing it to damage from the cold.