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Weather fluctuations shouldn't cause growing problems

By ERICA STAAB

Special to The Hays Daily News

If Kansas was known for one thing, it just might be its bipolar weather.

Mornings start out in cold temperatures, and by afternoon, temperatures seem to rise to an almost spring-like feel.

That's just how the weather has been here so far this year in Kansas. Some might worry about lawns and gardens and how the weather will affect the springtime growing in the next few months.

"This time of year, it seems we have this sort of pattern of temperatures, and it's hard to predict how it will affect the plants," said Holly Dickman, Kansas State University Research and Extension horticulture agent. "But from what we have seen in the past, it won't do any detrimental damage."

A few days with warm, spring-like temperatures won't do any harm, she said. Even though the days can get warm, the nighttime temperature still gets cold. That means the soil temperatures remain at approximately 40 to 41 degrees.

"Now, if we had a week straight of 70 degree weather, then we would start to see plants and trees being affected," Dickman said.

One thing people worry about is warmer temperatures mixed with windy days. Days similar to that can cause evergreen trees to dry out.

"To help prevent trees from drying out, people can water them on days with a warmer temperature," Dickman said

If the same weather patterns occur in spring, such as in March, there would be much more damage to plant life -- including damaging fruit trees causing them to not produce any fruit, Dickman said.

"If people know that it is going to freeze during this time, it can help to go out and cover budding plants with a blanket or a cardboard box to help keep the plants safe," she said.

The most it would do is damage the flowers that bloom early in the spring, such as tulips, Dickman said. Flowers usually seen during spring wouldn't survive, but many of them would send up new growth later in the season.

"We can never be 100 percent sure how the weather is going to affect plant life until it actually happens," Dickman said. "But from previous years, the plants will be fine."