Polar Vortex Affects Ohio Crops and Livestock

Image courtesy of Bill Griffin 
Months ago, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a “frigid winter with bitter cold and heavy snow,” but this season is turning out to be rougher than expected. Above average snowfall and extreme temperatures are causing problems for many farmers across Ohio.

During the week of Jan. 26, the minimum temperature across Ohio reached 11 below zero, as reported in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin. This is a 10-degree departure from average minimum temperatures.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, much of Ohio’s wine-grape, peach and blackberry crops have been lost. Fruit buds, bushes, vines and trees have sustained damage, although the exact magnitude of the damage is unknown. 

“The viniferous or European grape varieties have probably sustained 90 to 100 percent injury to their primary buds,” said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist.

Dick Jensen, owner of the Flying J Wellness Farm, said his spinach and kale crops stopped growing.

“Last year, we had beautiful spinach, kale and arugula all winter,” Jensen said. “This year, everything pretty much died.”

In addition to freezing crops, the cold streak also disrupted grain and livestock shipments across the United States. Frozen troughs have affected milk production on Stacy Atherton’s family owned Shipley Farms in Newark, Ohio.

“We were down on milk quite a bit, two pounds per cow,” Atherton said. That added up to a “1,000 pounds’ difference from what we normally ship in a day.”

The extreme cold affected many crops and livestock alike. How has the extreme cold affected your farm?

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