Cold is good for farming

Roger Hadley, Allen County Farm Bureau President, says extreme cold offers some advantages to farmers.Video by Cathie Rowand

You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.


Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Roger Hadley, a Woodburn farmer who is president of the Allen County Farm Bureau, says this week's cold weather could be beneficial to farmers.

Farmers see cold, snow as mixed blessing

Fort Wayne's brutal weather has been a blessing and a curse for farmers.

On one hand, the snow adds needed moisture to the ground, which will make for a pleasant planting season in the spring. And the arctic temperatures kill pesky insects – like rootworms – that can irritate homeowners but make a grower's life miserable.

"If they're buried beneath the snow it can insulate them, but I doubt they could survive the cold we had this week," said Roger Hadley, president of the Allen County Farm Bureau and owner of 700 acres of corn and soybeans in Woodburn. "And, yes, we're always glad to see moisture."

But the polar vortex conditions – which resulted in some wind chill temperatures coming in at minus 50 degrees – put a burden on owners of livestock.

"No matter what, the animals have to be fed," said Bruce Moody, who has 600 to 700 Holstein steers in Fremont. "The water started freezing, but we got them fed. Our (farm) wasn't designed for arctic weather."

Besides the animals, Moody said he had concern for his farm hands who braved the subzero weather.

"Everything is not done inside a barn, and you have to do some things out of doors and that's tough. We weren't made for this kind of weather."

Decatur farmer Eugene Berning said he empathizes.

"Those guys earn their money when it gets like this," said Berning, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 600 acres. "I feel for those who have livestock, but, yeah, the ground moisture is a good thing."

Evan Bentley, a staff meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the arctic weather has blown over. Now, melting snow may become an issue.

"We will continue returning to normal temperatures today and through the weekend," he said. "There could be some minor flooding. So, if you live near a sewer or drainage area you want to make sure to keep it clear of snow so the water has someplace to go."

So far this year, Fort Wayne has had 1.28 inches of runoff from melted snow, compared with 0.01 of an inch a year ago during the same period.

Temperatures on Saturday should reach into the low 40s with rain showers, possibly mixed with snow. By Sunday, things should be drier with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 30s – more normal for this time of year.

Bentley also cautioned residents against walking near rooftops, as falling snow could bombard them.

"You will need to be careful," he said.

Berning is just glad the worst is over.

"Everybody got a workout," he said, referring to residents and members of the agricultural community having to plow tons of snow. "You're working, but you have to work extra hard because equipment breaks down and things like that."