Blast of winter weather concerns farmers, orchard owners

Credit: Journal News

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Snow in Middletown

Credit: Journal News

Clark County farmer Brian Harbage said there have been late spring frosts before, but he hadn’t seen a storm like the one that hit the Miami Valley in 10 to 15 years.

A corn farmer, he said he has planted some of his corn crop, but the damage from the snow, frost and cold temperatures that came on Tuesday and Wednesday night may not be fully determined until this weekend. Harbage said if the soybeans are out of the ground, “they’re dead.”

Springtime blooms were covered with snow early Wednesday morning, April 21, 2021. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
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Springtime blooms were covered with snow early Wednesday morning, April 21, 2021. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Credit:

“It depends on the crop’s growing point out of the ground,” Harbage said. “If it wasn’t out of the ground, it might be all right. I think it’s fine and I’m not concerned.”

He said there “is definitely a lot of risk having cold and wet weather in the spring.”

“I’m hoping it’s (winters) last hurrah and everything will be good,” Harbage said.

ExplorePHOTOS: Record snow in April around the area

The weather broke snowfall records in Dayton and Cincinnati for April 20 and a 120-year-old record for April 21 in Cincinnati, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

While snow at the end of April is uncommon, it’s not the latest people in the Dayton region have found flurries outside. Dayton’s record for late measurable snow was set on May 9, 1923 with half an inch, according to NWS. The same date is also the record for Columbus, with Cincinnati’s late snow touching down on May 6, 1989.

A sign near Enon urges people to smile even though half of the smiley face sign is covered with snow Wednesday after a record April snow fall swept through the area. Marshall Gorby/STAFF
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A sign near Enon urges people to smile even though half of the smiley face sign is covered with snow Wednesday after a record April snow fall swept through the area. Marshall Gorby/STAFF

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

The NWS has issued a freeze warning from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m. Thursday morning as temperatures again drop below freezing across the area, bringing widespread frost in the pre-dawn hours.

Despite the frosty start, Thursday will be a little warmer, with a high around 52 degrees. There will be a few clouds building up, though they are expected to clear again by the evening.

There will also be some breezy winds throughout the day, which will also fall away in the evening.

Farmers waiting to start planting

Greg McGlinch of Darke County said a lot of grain farmers waited to plant their crops due to the recent cold weather.

He said while “a good majority” waited to plant, some corn famers dug a little more deeper when planting or were just working the ground.

Spring time snow Wednesday, April 21, 2021  covers these bolding colored Tulips. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
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Spring time snow Wednesday, April 21, 2021 covers these bolding colored Tulips. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Credit:

“Once it dries up and there’s not a lot of moisture and warmer temperatures, we could be planting next week,” he said.

Ty Higgins, Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman, said farmers won’t know for sure how much their crops were damaged. However, he said 95% percent of Ohio’s crops have yet to be planted and that 5% or less of the soybean and corn crop has been planted statewide.

While snow can provide good insulation, Higgins said the frost and cold temperatures could damage fruit trees and other plants.

“We’re crossing our fingers and hoping for the best,” Higgins said.

According to this week’s U.S. Agriculture Department’s crop report, farmers continued planting, tillage, spraying, and fertilizer activities. Oats were 52 percent planted while oats emerged was 26 percent. Corn planted progress was at 4 percent complete while soybeans planted progress was at 5 percent. Winter wheat jointing was 43 percent and the winter wheat crop was rated 82 percent good to excellent condition.

Fruit farms watching weather closely

Glenn Monnin of Monnin’s Fruit Farm on Frederick Pike in Dayton has been in business for 60 years and said, “we’ve become accustomed to late frosts.”

He said, “last year was real bad and if it gets down to 28 degrees, it’s going to hurt the peaches.”

Monnin said it takes about 24-48 hours to for the damage to be seen on fruit trees and said he’s concerned about the apples and strawberries. The farm also grows plums, cherries and raspberries. “Tonight (Wednesday) will be the tell-tale,” he said. “We’re watching the Weather Channel. If the clouds stick around, we’ll be OK.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “It’s a gamble every year. The orchards are in full bloom. It’s the worst timing ever. We lose a lot of business when we don’t have stuff out there.”

Clark County farmer Brian Harbage makes sure his planter is ready for nice weather so he can start planting his crops. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Clark County farmer Brian Harbage makes sure his planter is ready for nice weather so he can start planting his crops. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Greg Myer, Warren County/Ohio State University extension educator, said the fruit trees are in bloom and temperatures of 28 degrees and lower are devastating to fruit trees.

While Tuesday night’s snow was concerning, Myers said he was more worried about cold temperatures predicted for Wednesday night.

“We’re on the edge of having some or widespread damage depending on the location,” Myer said. “There are no problems for vegetables.”

He said the late frost that came mid-May in 2020 came as fruit trees were well into their growing cycle and there was significant damage in pockets around the county.

Mike Berns of Berns Garden Center in Middletown and Beavercreek said Tuesday’s winter weather “was certainly pretty and unexpected.”

He said a second night of colder temperatures could be more damaging to outdoor plants. Berns recommended covering plants and vegetables if possible. If the temperatures don’t go below 30 degrees, he thinks plants will be OK.

Some cicadas may be affected by the cold weather

Five Rivers MetroParks’ biologist has advised that the soil needs to be about 64 degrees for the cicada nymphs to emerge, and they usually emerge at dusk.

The biologist said it’s likely the cold affected the cicadas that just emerged and don’t have an exoskeleton yet, but there are still plenty that have yet to emerge.

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