Warmer weather good not only for people

Cattle and plants also benefit.
Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 7:46 p.m. CST; updated 7:52 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 10, 2011

COLUMBIA — The weather is expected to warm up gradually for the next week, reaching a high of 62 degrees by this time next week.

The warming trend is especially good news for Missourians who are raising plants or cattle.

Julie Phillipson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said a southerly and southwesterly flow is “allowing more warm and moist air to move back in the area.”

Here’s what that means for:

  • Greenhouses: Warm, sunny days mean lower propane gas bills for Steven Sapp, owner of Strawberry Hill Farms. He strives to keep temperatures around 70 degrees in greenhouses where germinating seeds grow and between 60 and 65 degrees in greenhouses where older plants grow. Higher temperatures are also less damaging to plants that must be transferred from one greenhouse to another. If the snow and ice covering the top of the greenhouses melts, more sunlight also will reach the plants. “When ice and snow accumulate on them, it’s fairly dark,” he said.
  • Plant nurseries: Bart Piotter of E.C. Piotter & Sons Nursery said the warmth will “help us out by melting the snow off and letting us get to maintaining plants.” When he and his employees don't have to trudge through snow, it will be easier to trim trees and shrubs and clean up the landscape, he said. There is the possibility of too much of a good thing, however. If the plants get warm enough to sprout leaves and buds, they’ll be susceptible to injury if temperatures drop again.
  • Cattle farmers: Below-freezing weather makes birthing more difficult for cows and their calves, while warmer weather leads to an increase in calf survival rates, cattle farmer John Kleiboeker of California, Mo., said. The period from January to May 1 is the most popular birthing season, he said. Like many farmers, Kleiboeker is expecting to deliver several calves in the next couple of weeks. Warmer weather also means decreased feed costs: “They simply don’t need as much energy to maintain their body heat,” Kleiboeker said.

Lainie Mullen contributed to this report.

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Bill Fisher February 12, 2011 | 9:26 a.m.

Don't forget all the birds that have had trouble finding food under all the snow. My backyard is filled with them today as it melts.

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