It’s a good old weather proverb.
And it’s a truism founded upon practical agrarian experience that has been passed down through many generations of farmers and gardeners. I thought you might be interested in knowing a few of the reasons behind the old-time weather adage.
Lots of Snow Means Lots More Water
One of the reasons that a bountiful fall harvest follows a winter with heavy snowfall is because there’s plenty of fresh, clean ground water for food production. After a winter of substantial snow accumulation, underground aquifers and household wells are recharged during the spring melt and thaw.
Unconfined fresh water aquifers are vital to all aspects of agriculture and rural life. An abundance of fresh water will help to insure that field crops, orchards and home vegetable gardens will have plenty of moisture and water for the coming growing season.
Plants Are Better Protected
Deep snow that lies on the ground throughout the winter is of benefit to field crops, orchards, small fruits and perennial garden plants. Heavy snow acts like a frozen mulch and insulates the soil and plants. During the winter months, plants are protected from the destructive cycle of “freeze, thaw & heave” by a continuous cover of snow.
It’s not the bitter cold that will damage plants as much as it is the wind and ground heaving. The repeated thawing and then refreezing of the ground tends to heave plants up from the ground and creates air pockets that will leave roots exposed. This makes plants vulnerable to winter kill, wind damage and drying out.
Best Time to Apply Fresh Manure
Traditionally it has always been understood by good farmers, that snow cover is of benefit when spreading manure. Fresh manure spread upon snow-covered winter fields insures a fertile future for that field and its future crops. The reason that snow cover is an advantage when spreading manure is because the manure is drawn down deep into the soil structure when the snow begins to melt in the spring.
Fruit Trees Are Slower To Bloom Before a Killing Frost
A long winter with heavy snow and sustained cold temperatures will tend to protect orchards and small fruits from blooming too early. A lot of snow and cold weather slows down the flowering of fruit trees and allows them to bloom when it’s safe. Very often a brief warm spell in early spring will cause fruit trees to bloom and flower too early. If flowering fruit trees are caught by an unexpected killing frost, fruit production can be severely limited or completely destroyed for that year.
Destructive Pests Are Controlled
Cold weather and heavy snow may keep certain insect pests and internal parasite (worms) populations under control. Fewer insect pests mean less pest damage to fields, orchards and gardens and more food for people.
And when internal parasites aren’t reproducing as quickly due to cold weather, it makes for better feed conversion, and healthier and happier livestock and farmers. Nobody likes to feed blood sucking worms.
Frozen Snow Covered Ground Means Livestock Can Be Turned Out Of the Barn
During the winter months many farmers will keep livestock confined in a holding yard or confined to a barn or shelter when the ground is not frozen. That’s because livestock will tear up and destroy a pasture by turning it into a sloppy mud hole when the ground is bare of snow or unfrozen. Confined livestock can become restless and over fat (especially when pregnant) from lack of exercise. When there is snow on the ground and the ground is frozen solid, livestock can be turned out for fresh air and exercise and be fed outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine is good for everything, but especially pregnant animals. Healthy livestock tend to deliver healthy offspring.