The Soil Scout Social - Unlocking the Secrets of Cereal Crop Winter Survival: A Guide for Monitoring and Maximising Outcomes - Part 1
Soil temperature monitoring can be utilised to measure the likelihood of winter cereals surviving in a field, both for the existing crop and for potential future crops. By taking into account the current farming techniques, recorded soil temperature readings can help farmers accurately assess the viability of winter cereals for a given field and make informed decisions about which crop to plant.
Though there are many traditional rules dictating the weather needed for successful winter cereal production, the root and plant crown depth temperatures are ultimately the most influential factors. To gain a greater understanding of how cereals acclimate to the winter season, one should explore the numerous articles written by Dr. D.B. Fowler at the University of Saskatchewan.
As temperatures dip below 10°C (50°F), cereals will begin to reduce their growth rate and develop tolerance to colder soil temperatures than their initial threshold of -3°C. As long as the rate of tolerance development exceeds the decline in soil temperature, the maximum tolerance of -33°C (-27°F) for Rye, -22°C (-8°F) for Wheat, and -17°C (1.5°F) for Barley can be achieved in as little as 50 days.
As the frost comes down to the level of its tolerance, some of the hard-won progress is nullified, and the plants are no longer able to withstand the extreme cold like before. This highlights the precariousness of the situation for these hardy plants and their delicate balance between surviving and succumbing to the elements.
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