Are early snows a blessing or a disaster? - The360 Lifestyle

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  • Saturday, November 30, 2019

    Are early snows a blessing or a disaster?

    Are early snows a blessing or a disaster?

    The early snows of November are usually considered a blessing for most plants in Quebec. Even though, in agriculture, it is a disaster for some corn and soybean producers. Explanations. 

    Ideal conditions for plants

    The soil is not yet frozen deep, trees, shrubs and perennials have experienced a normal period of deposition and snow covers the ground of its insulating mantle. These are all favorable conditions for plants, says Jacques Brisson, professor of plant ecology at the University of Montreal. While the many leaves that persist in tree branches may be of concern to some people, their presence does not hurt in any way. "They will end up falling because they have become useless," he says. Many trees in urban areas sometimes take a long time to get rid of their leaves because they often come from another continent where growth conditions are different. This is the case of lilacs or Norway maples, for example.

    The case of corn and soybeans

    For corn and soybean producers, November's abundant snowfall is a nightmare. These annuals have reached the required maturity, but snow prevents the machinery from harvesting. The small soybean sometimes crushed on the ground, making it inaccessible, while elsewhere, only the top of corn plants can be harvested. Wheat residues will make geese, geese and crows happy in the spring, but the losses will be in millions for producers. Intended primarily for animal feed, grain corn and soybeans are the main cereal crops in Quebec for a respective harvest of 3.4 and 1 million tonnes per year. In comparison, the harvest of fresh corn consumed on the cob during the summer hardly exceeds 25,000 tonnes.

    Ideal thermal protection

    Augusting is an essential phenomenon that allows plants to adapt to winter. The cool nights of late summer and early fall have allowed plants to make their own antifreeze. Cellular fluid is more resistant to extreme cold, a protection that obviously has its limits. In addition, snow remains the best natural insulation. She is the ally of the gardener. If you have not had time to protect your plants with polystyrene cloths or cones, rest assured: they are mostly useless, unless, indeed, to be covered with snow. In Alaska, it has already been shown that the temperature was -5 ºC under 60 cm of snow while the mercury indicated -50 ºC. Do not hesitate to protect shrubs and evergreens from the snowblower. She can break their branches in a few seconds.

    The problem of temperature fluctuations

    Temperature fluctuations are the main threat to plants in winter and especially in spring, when the buds have thawed quickly and the budburst process is underway. They will often die as a result of a significant freeze. Winter thaw periods can also be dramatic. Last year, a layer of ice was formed on the ground, which was then covered with snow, causing plant asphyxiation and significant perennial losses. In 1981, in mid-February, Quebec experienced a 14-day period without frost and temperature spikes up to 16ºC. The snow has disappeared, the sap has flowed. Then the mercury descended for a long time at -15ºC, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of maples and apple trees. Spring cleaning in sight.

    Consulting agronomist Claude Gélinas is also delighted by the thick carpet of snow on the ground. "All the conditions are right for our plants to have a good winter," he says. The only problem: the wind that swept the leaves, and the trees that could not complete their autumnal stripping. The cleaning of the land and flowerbeds in the spring will be all the more considerable. It will then quickly eliminate the accumulation of leaves on some corners of lawn. Deprived of light, the grass is doomed.

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