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Montana Ag Network: Agricultural benefits of the snow and cold

Posted at 2:15 PM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 18:16:35-04

GREAT FALLS – Although it’s tough on agriculture, the snow and cold does have benefits when it comes to agriculture.

The 2018–2019 winter season wasn’t as impressive in the way of snow totals as the previous year.

But officials say the snow Montana received couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only does the snow provide moisture come spring it also helps protect crops.

“Essentially, it insulates the plants from the cold,” said John Miller, a research scientist with the Western Triangle Ag Research Center. “It also insulates the plants from the winds we get in this part of Montana.”

The snow and cold can also cause plant growth delay, in turn affecting insect populations.

According to Entomologist Dr. Gadi Reddy with the Western Triangle Ag Research Center, if a plant grows slowly and doesn’t produce flowers, some insect populations can decline because of the inability for them to feed and lay eggs.

“The Wheat Midge, for example, their diapausing larvae goes into the soil so extreme temperatures,” said Reddy. “That can kill those populations.”

Unfortunately, officials are left to examine the impacts on a case-by-case basis.

“But maybe not a Saw Fly because Saw Fly diapausing larvae is inside the wheat stubble and is well protected and also produced certain chemicals to protect from around the body,” said Reddy.

The bottom line is although the harsh elements may have had some impacts on insects, the greatest benefit from this winter was the timely snowfall.

By Jason Laird – MTN News