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Michigan farmers question warm weather impact on winter wheat

Jenna Falor
Michigan State University Extension

Michigan is facing one of it's mildest winters since the 1930s, according to the National Weather Service. The rise in temperatures is hitting amidst the growing season of winter wheat, a crop that is planted in the fall and harvested in the spring.

Agriculture experts from Michigan State University Extension told WCMU that winter wheat in its current stage of development needs a soil temperature of 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dennis Pennington is a Wheat Systems Specialist for MSU Extension. He said farmers have contacted him with questions about how their crops might be affected by mild temperatures.

Pennington said growers at this point in time should be paying attention to soil temperatures because the growing point of the plant is currently below ground.

"When that growing point moves above the soil surface and is exposed to air temperatures then we need to start paying attention to the air temperature," Pennington said.

Pennington said a concern that could arise is an increase of water in the field from the melting snow and rains. He said too much water could damage the plants.

Pennington mentioned that he doesn't foresee any problems but encourages growers to keep an eye on their crop. A sudden drop in temperatures after prolonged mild weather could cause bigger damage to the pants than mild temperature by itself.

Jazmin Anderson is a newsroom intern covering central Michigan for WCMU.