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Late snows like Wednesday's can damage plants, but they're not always bad for farmers

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Posted at 4:56 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 21:08:02-04

They say people who don't like the weather in Ohio only have to wait a bit before it changes again and Wednesday's startling snow dump certainly helped prove the point.

While neighborhoods scrambled to cover delicate outdoor plants with sheets and tarps Tuesday night, the impending snow forecast didn't concern farmers in the region.

"Snow is the poor farmer's fertilizer," said John Branstrator, owner and operator of Branstrator Farm in Clarksville, Ohio, which received four inches of Wednesday morning. "We get a little bit of nitrogen. It keeps the cold winds from drying out the crops. It'll soak in."

While snow can harm any plants that have sprouted above the surface of the ground, a blanket of snow can actually be a boon to plants still slumbering in seed form.

"They called for a little bit of snow, but actually it was a nice surprise because this snow is protecting the wheat and the cover crops and it's like a blanket," said Branstrator.

Ty Higgins, with the Ohio Farm Bureau, said fortunately only around 4% of corn and 5% of soy beans have been planted already. He said those are the crops that could be damaged from Wednesday's snow; This time last year, some apple trees also saw damage from late cold temperatures.

While getting snow this late is uncommon, it does happen and freeze warnings can affect the region into the end of April. The Greater Cincinnati region's last late snowfall was on April 24, 2005.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington has reported snow as late as early May in the Greater Cincinnati region.