Mild winter speeds up crop development locally

Published: Mar. 6, 2017 at 5:07 PM CST
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As Kentucky locals enjoy an unusually warm winter season, crops in the area seem to be soaking it in as well by jump-starting their development, according to WKU agriculture professor Dr. Todd Willian.

"The crops are ahead of where they should be typically at this time of year based on the warm weather."

But according to the WKU agriculture professor, an early start to crop production could mean a hard hit to the harvest if cold weather decides to make an appearance.

"The larger and more developed the crops are at the time the cold temperatures occur, the more damage is done. So they are larger, and more further along developmentally than they should be," Dr. Willian mentioned.

"Our last frost-free date is usually over a month from now, so that's still a possibility to have freezing temperatures. Primarily crops like wheat, and also many of the fruiting crops like trees, grapes, etc. would be some of the ones that would be most prone to damage during spring freezes," Dr. Willian added.

Backing Dr. Willian's weather predictons, 13 News' meteorologist Shane Holinde says you can never be too careful when deciding to start your own harvest at home.

"We've had temperatures in the 20's as late as May here, believe it or not. For gardeners who are just a bit anxious to get out there to plant those tomatoes or squash plants a little early, you always have to be very careful and make sure that you don't do that until typically after Derby weekend say in early May. Usually when we are past that point, we are past the threat for any hard freeze in our area," Holinde stated.

All in all, farmers and gardeners are going to have to patiently await to see what mother nature ultimately brings us.

To keep up with your own local weather conditions as the winter progresses, go to our website at or download our WBKO 13 News app to receive the latest weather, news and sports in your area.