NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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March 26, 2012 Agricultural Column


We were out for supper on Saturday night and a producer came over to visit and said they were very disappointed they had to wear a hat that day, as they worked on their machinery.  I told him that we could be thankful for not having to wear a fully insulated coat and other articles to keep warm.  This is still the month of March.  I have heard of more and more producers trying a little farming however I have heard of nothing locally.  The questions have been asked “how early can we start the farming game and feel somewhat comfortable about the likely hood of our crops surviving”?  The answer is not clear but the explanation should be of some assistance to you.  Actual farming conditions play a large role of how early spring planting can begin.  Is the ground actually fit to be in and how warm is the ground temperature.  The last I looked bare ground temperature what 42 degrees.  I have not looked this week.  Secondly, planting early has always been professed to be the best solution for yield for most all cool season crops.  They are more tolerant to cooler temperatures should a frost occur, once growing.  The wheat, barley, pea and corn plant are quite capable of rejuvenating back from a killing frost, so long as it is not late in the growing season.  The above mentioned plants have growing points still below the ground level for a period of time and can provide new growth.  There are some exceptions to this, the ability of the root to rejuvenate determines on plant maturity and the duration of the cold spell and temperature.  Temperatures at 28 for a short period of time (an hour or two) give the plants a much better chance of survival than 28 degrees for 6-8 hours or more.  The crown of the plant is fairly tough.  A wheat plant can be froze off at the 4-5 leaf stage but the ability to recoup becomes more iffy as the plant grows more leaves and once the plant has reached that 5 leaf stage the plant will not likely come back from a killing frost.  If the plant gets smoked off at the two leaf stage compared to the four leaf stage the survivability is much better than the later stage.  The average frost date for us is May 15.  This means we have a 50 % chance of a frost killing green material with a temperature of 28 degrees or less.


                March 27                             Private Pesticide training                              Devils Lake

                April 10                                 Private Pesticide training                              Devils Lake

                April 14                 Grand Forks Gardening Saturday

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