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How to Protect Your Crops This Winter

Folks in Wisconsin know how to get through long, hard winters. Getting livestock and crops through the winter is another sort of challenge. The trick to protecting your crops and nurturing your soil is to prepare for the winter long before the first snowflakes fly. Here’s how to get started.

Cover Crops

Cover crops are essential for sustainable farming , whether or not you choose to incorporate them into the soil later on. During the winter, they protect the soil from erosion, discourage pests and diseases, reduce nutrient leaching, and replenish the soil’s supply of microorganisms. Cover crops even help aerate the soil and, if you plant a legume cover crop, can offer nitrogen fixation.

Wisconsin has a short growing season between harvest and frost, so consider interseeding your cover crop. For example, if you grow corn, you can interseed red clover and cereal rye—both of which do very well under a shady canopy, and neither of which adversely affect crop yield.

Row Covers

Extend your growing season or protect crops you intend to overwinter with row covers. One popular method is to frame polyester or polypropylene covers with wire hoops. Floating row covers, the lightest type, may be used during the fall and the early spring, but they won’t provide enough protection during the winter months. Instead, consider using plastic or fabric row covers. Or, use a cold frame for extra durability.

Wind Barriers

There can be a drastic difference between the recorded air temperature and the wind chill, and this difference can be enough to kill your crops. Protect them from subzero wind chill temperatures by building a wind barrier. One popular method is to plant a row of tall evergreen shrubs or trees with dense growth.

Owners of hobby farms and working farms alike can find what they need at Stockman's Farm Supply . It’s a family-owned and operated business located in Wilson, WI. To inquire about their current inventory, you can call them at (715) 772-3128.

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