OSU Extension
OSU Extension
Much of Northwest Ohio turned into a winter wonderland this week after receiving a heavy blanket of snow Monday evening into Tuesday morning. While we often long for warmer temperatures and sunshine this time of year – this recent snowfall provides numerous benefits for our soils and plants during the winter months. After all, “a year of snow, fruit will grow” and “a good winter’s snow makes all the plants grow” are sayings with merit.

Snow provides much needed precipitation during the winter months. While snowfall in NW Ohio varies considerably from year to year, our part of the state receives about 24 inches of snowfall on average. Other regions of Ohio along Lake Erie’s snowbelt can accumulate 100+ inches! Approximately 10 inches of snow are needed to provide 1 inch of water to the soil when melted. While total amounts for our area are relatively low, snow does contribute a small amount to our annual precipitation needs.

Snow is nature’s insulation. A blanket of snow moderates soil temperatures and prevents wide fluctuations during the winter months. Air trapped between the snow particles can raise the soil temperature to 30 to 35°F, preventing a deep frost layer. This is important for soil organisms and plants that overwinter in the soil and resume growth in the spring – like winter wheat, turfgrass, and numerous garden perennials. Without snow cover, soil temperatures can drop tremendously, damaging and often killing insects and plant roots below the surface.

Snow cover also prevents soil erosion by wind during the winter months and by water in the spring. Soils covered with snow generally warm up more quickly in the spring than bare soils due to a thinner frost layer – which allows them to readily absorb water. Bare, frozen soils take longer to thaw and contribute to soil losses from runoff in the spring.

Despite all these benefits, one drawback to this week’s snowfall was the cancellation of our Pesticide Recertification Event in Kalida that was to be held on Tuesday morning and evening. Due to the weather conditions, those events have been moved to Tuesday evening, March 2 from 5 to 9 pm and Wednesday morning, March 3 from 8 am to 12 pm. Please call the office to register for either program – or visit Putnam.osu.edu to register online.

The OSU Extension Office is open for regular business with social distancing and face masks required. For other information, please contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at Scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.