Experts: Harsh winter good for soil, good for crops

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – This winter has brought a significant amount of snow and ice, a steady stream of school cancellations and travel restrictions, but it also may have brought some good.

Experts said this year’s winter should be favorable for U.S. crops after much of the country saw a drought the past two summers. As temperatures begin to slightly warm up, News 18′s Krista Henery checks in with two experts about what this winter’s snow means for this year’s planting season.

It’s been more than two-decades since Hoosiers have seen an intense winter mixed with ample amounts of snowfall and subzero temperatures like we saw this year.

“Specifically I think of like 1977 or 1978 was a year like this. And 1981 and 1982 is another example. But those winters were actually characterized by more snow than we are getting this year already,” said Associate State Climatologist Ken Scheeringa.

But as much of the state will begin to see a “warming” trend with above average temperatures, Scheeringa said more snow isn’t out of question.

“We can still have snow a month from now – six weeks from now, but there will be warmer periods dispersed in there as we’re getting into March,” said Scheeringa.

And as we inch closer to spring, planting season for Indiana farmers will be here before we know it. Purdue Agronomy Professor, Tony Vyn, said while this winter may have caused headaches for most Hoosiers, there are some benefits to all of this winter’s precipitation.

“The good news about this winter is that we have had a re-charge in our soil moisture,” said Vyn. “So, there is no longer the concern for drought effects. That is much of a concern, though, in the southwestern part of the United States.”

However, Scheeringa said if Mother Nature dumps more precipitation on Indiana come March or April, that’s when farmers could see a potential problem.

“If there is too much moisture before the planting season even begins and the soils are saturated – in other words, water is sitting in the fields, and we’re seeing muddy fields, just the ability to get into the field is the major challenge,” said Scheeringa.

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