Mild winter weather could harm crops in South Georgia

GEORGIA (WTOC) - Short sleeves and shades may feel great in February, but farmers actually need a frost or freeze or two to help fight enemies that will attack crops later in the year.

Sunny, warm days have been the norm this winter. Bill Tyson of the UGA Extension Service says farmers need the freezing weather to kill off some of the insects that plague crops.

"But we have had limited days or nights with less than 32 degrees," said Tyson.

He says the bugs never go away completely. But cold weather kills enough of them to buy farmers time to plant in the spring.

"We generally don't like them to be here before we start," said Tyson.

Add to that, cold weather usually helps prevent plant fungus. They could see more of them too.

Tyson says you may see tractors in the fields more often this year as farmers have to work even harder to keep both at bay.

"We've also got fungicides and insecticides that will have to be applied," said Tyson.

He and others would still prefer to see a cold snap this late than after they have crops in the ground.

Many of these crops have markets where farmers can't pass along the extra cost to buyers, it will just come out of an already thin bottom line.

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