Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mother Nature Didn't Get the Memo

An optimist is the human personification of spring.
Author Susan J. Bissonette

The wind blew, and the ice-covered trees sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies as a stream of milk causes them to release their trademark "snap, crackle and pop."

We walked across the road to the wheat field, and there was more crunching than a roomful of celery-and-carrot-munching dieters as our boots broke the surface of the ice that encased each tender green plant.
Yes, an optimist may be springtime personified. But Mother Nature has evidently not turned her calendar pages to discover that spring has proverbially sprung. And even the most eternal optimist can buckle under the weight of an untimely spring freeze, just as surely as ice-laden branches fall to the ground with a resounding boom.

It's too early to know how much April 9th's ice and sleet storm in Central Kansas has damaged the 2013 wheat crop. But it's sure to have an impact.

"It's good we have insurance," my favorite farmer told me.

The K-State experts are hedging their predictions for now. 
“The good news is that the wheat crop is not nearly as far along in development as it was at this time last year due to the drought, but any wheat at the jointing stage or later will probably lose some tillers where temperatures were in the teens for an extended time.” 
Jim Shroyer
K-State Research and Extension Crop Specialist
Well, being thankful for the drought is definitely a change of pace, right?

There seems to be a silver lining for us. (Well, at least the fields are glistening like silver.) Unlike Western Kansas, temperatures in Central Kansas didn't dip into the teens. Instead, we were in the 20s. While some of the tillers have probably been damaged, Shroyer says there is time for any undamaged tillers to compensate and minimize potential yield loss. However, that will depend on having adequate moisture, which is uncertain this year. 

His advise?
"Be patient. Do not take any immediate actions as a result of the freeze, such as destroying the field for recropping. It will take several days of warm weather to accurately evaluate the extent of damage."
Jim Shroyer, KSU
Our ice-covered forsythia bush looked a little different than it did a day or so ago. At the bottom right, compare the ice covered red bloom to the photo in my blog banner. Just a little difference, right?
A more typical spring scene
I patiently waited for the sun to come out so I could capture the glisten on the ice-covered foliage. But the sun was as stubborn as Old Man Winter. Still, the scenes were undeniably beautiful ... if you could overlook the potential crop calamity.
Randy brought the ice-covered rain gauge into the house Tuesday night. The thaw that took place in our kitchen sink provided good news: The storm brought about 1.75" of moisture.
There were only minor interruptions of electricity - more good news. We stayed nice and cozy. Our cats did, too, sharing body heat while crammed into their favorite cold-weather spot between the back steps and the house.
With all that hail/ice/sleet/rain mix, it was the perfect day for soup. I love soup. See? If you look hard enough, there's always a silver lining. I guess living with an optimist for 32 years is beginning to rub off on me. We can experience that burst of sunshine - even when it's hiding under a layer of cold, hard facts.


  1. Praying for your crop... please let us know how things come out... we didn't get the freeze here in Leavenworth county, just dips into 30's.

    1. Thanks, Mary Ann. From what K-State specialists say, it will be several days before we'll know. As Randy says, thank goodness we have insurance. I guess those astronomical premium bills are worth it.