It’s Warm And Dry In Colorado. This Is What It Means For Your Garden And Food

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Photo: Colorado Wheat Harvest
Wheat is harvested on the Cooksey farm near Roggen, Colorado in 2009.

Instead of transitioning to winter, Colorado hit heat records last month. It's affecting gardens around the state, though it's too early to know what the warm weather will mean for large-scale agriculture, according to Adrian Card, agriculture extension agent with CSU Extension.

"There can be some game-changer snow events between now and the beginning of the irrigation period sometimes in April or May. So it's concerning, but we can't clearly predict into the future what this warm spell will mean for crop production and harvest in 2018," Card tells Colorado Matters.

He says Southwest Colorado is particularly dry right now -- about 29 percent of the 30-year average snowpack. Card is keeping a close eye on winter wheat, which needs good soil moisture through the winter in order to be harvested next summer.

Soil moisture is also important for home gardens, as well as lawns, trees and shrubs, according to Larry Stebbins, who leads Pikes Peak Urban Gardens in Colorado Springs. Stebbins says gardeners should keep their vegetable beds moist until they freeze. He recommends putting mulch or straw on top of the garden beds right before the freeze to hold in as much moisture as possible.