Farmers see silver lining in snowstorms

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Kansas and Oklahoma won a meteorological lottery this week as a second major winter storms spreads across the Plains. Some areas of Kansas could see upwards of 15 inches of sno

The storm is expected to traverse the country's midsection through Wednesday.

While a winter storm may send most people into a panic-driven frenzy, farmers are a different breed. For drought-weary farmers, snow brings moisture that will help replenish soil left dry by the intense drought t hat has blanketed the region for months.

"Moisture for the farmers, we need it to catch up,” Kansas farmhand Victor Link said in an interview with KSN News. “I mean that's the only way our boss is going to make the bills is the grain. I mean that's our livelihood.”

Last winter, influenced heavily by La Niña, left many in the region with fewer snowstorms than previous years. That combined with an intense drought that has lingered for more than 6 months means that farmers are desperate for any precipitation.  The drought didn’t just affect farmers – it affected consumers, too.  

"Well we feed America, so if we don't get moisture and can't grow a crop people are going to start getting hungry,” said Kansas farmhand Wyatt Grandclair.

Read, “Farmers thankful for snow.”

Unfortunately, even two major snowstorms won’t be enough to stop the drought, but it does help.

"It will certainly be enough moisture now to get the crop growing when it breaks dormancy," John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring, told Reuters. "More will be needed in April and May. For now it's a big help."

Read more here.

This winter storm, dubbed “Rocky” by The Weather Channel, is also forecast to hit other dry states including Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Arkansas and Michigan. All are key agricultural states, with a heavy livestock influence in each state.

Experts anticipate that the storm will create added stress to cattle in the region. Last week CattleNetwork offered tips for keeping cattle comfortable in heavy snow. Click here to view the article.

For dairies, one of the biggest concerns is heavy snow loads on buildings.  Snow has already caused one barn to partially collapse at a Connecticut dairy after a major winter storm dumped more than two feet of snow on the area. Dairy Herd Network has several tips for preventing problems with heavy snow loads on farm buildings. Read more from Dairy Herd Network here.

Pork producers need to pay particular interest in preventing power failures during the storm. Mike Brumm suggests that producers plan for electric failures and look at everything from the type of generators to alarm systems on the site.  Read, “Power failures and snow storms."

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