Eric Brown

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May 13, 2014
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Predicted temperatures could spell trouble for Weld crops, gardens

Farmers, as much as ever, were hoping Monday that weather forecasters would be proven wrong.

That afternoon, predictions called for temperatures to drop into the mid 20s early Tuesday morning.

That doesn’t bode well for local crops, some of which were just planted in recent weeks.

Bruce Bosley, a Colorado State University crop specialist, said a number of crops — sugar beets, alfalfa and wheat — are at risk if temperatures drop below 28 degrees and stay there for about a half-hour or longer.

Damaging temperatures could waste what’s been needed and abundant moisture recently. After a dry and windy March and April, Greeley in May had seen 2.32 inches of precipitation through Sunday afternoon — nearly tripling the average for that stretch of time.

Some of that moisture came as part of Sunday’s snows, which also included a dip in temperatures. However, temperatures early Monday morning fell to 32 degrees in Greeley, according Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Colorado.

Local farmers Monday were hoping they’d be as fortunate through Tuesday morning.

Bosley said other crops common to the area — onions and corn — don’t face the same risks as sugar beets, alfalfa and wheat. Onions are more tolerant of the cold, withstanding temperatures in the low 20s. And, while corn is less tolerant of the cold than others, that crop for the most part is earlier in its growth stage right now, and, having barely emerged, has more protection from the ground.

In addition to sugar beets, alfalfa and wheat, the many fields in the area with specialty crops are at risk, too, local farmers say.

Bob Sakata with Sakata Farms based in Brighton, which grows a variety of vegetables across Weld County, echoed Bosley in that temperatures falling below 28 degrees could spell trouble for his crops.

“Hopefully, we stay above that mark,” said Sakata, who grows cabbage and sweet corn, among other crops. “If it gets below that, it’s just wait and see if it survives, or see if we have to replant.”

Replanting is costly, but it’s at least on option.

For growers of wheat, which was planted last fall and will be harvested this summer, there’s no replanting at this point.

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My Windsor Now Updated May 16, 2014 08:53PM Published May 16, 2014 10:29AM Copyright 2014 My Windsor Now. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.