Lack of Snow a Problem for Wisconsin Alfalfa

Well, here’s a problem we don’t have in the South. A lack of snow cover has Wisconsin dairy producers concerned about the health of their alfalfa. Jerry Clark with Wisconsin Extension says with no snow, a cold snap could wipe out the alfalfa crop.

That’s the biggest issue right now I think is the weather. You know, we say Oh, this weather is great, and it’s easy to drive around. Yeah, for getting around on the roads. But from an agricultural standpoint, especially Wisconsin in the alfalfa industry. This is starting to get a time to worry because we do have in the forecast below average temperatures, which means that soil temperatures really going to start to drop without that snow cover all it takes is a couple inches and it’ll protect that soil temperature. Once we get soil temperatures below around 15 degrees. That’s when alfalfa is going to die. It can’t handle that cold temperature.

Clark says cover crops can tolerate the colder temperatures better, but not entirely.

You’ll see winter wheat be a little bit more tolerable. But regardless, they still can’t withstand those really cold soil temperatures. So we could see some decrease in a winter survival on some of those winter crops. The winter rye looks really good right now. It’s still growing in some cases. So it’s kind of a wild year to see that happening. But yes, I think if this happens where we continue no snow cover, we get these bitter cold temperatures, and we got to watch that soil temperature. I mean dandelions will die in some of these cases, so these crops can have an issue moving forward.

And the lack of snow cover also means lower soil temperatures in the spring, delaying planting.

Price levels will definitely go deeper when we don’t have that snow cover. We all recall last year we had snow cover early, mid-December, early December, we already had snow cover and it stayed all winter. Farmers talked about putting fence posts in the ground all winter, those kinds of things. That’s not going to be the case this year if this continues where we have this no cover and then these below average temperatures that are predicted.