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Winter weather expected to help crops

WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - This wicked weather has made life difficult this winter. But it turns out this could be good for crops in West Michigan.

It's thick snow and ice as far as the eye can see on farms in West Michigan. With the recent deep freeze, Michigan State University Extension Educator Mark Longstroth says think of it as one big blanket.

"Because it insulates the ground so anything under the snow isn't hurt," he explains.

Longstroth says we've been on the brink of it being too chilly for crops. "We dropped down into the -15s which is just enough to hurt peaches, wine grapes and blueberries. It didn't get cold enough to do a lot of damage," he says.

The good news: Cold temperatures are killing off some invasive species, insects living up in trees. Also, these mountains of snow will provide lots of moisture for farmland.

"Some of our areas had adequate moisture going into the winter and others were short so that will be really nice," Longstroth says. He adds if the snow melts slowly, we shouldn't see much flooding. Home gardens should also be fine in this weather.

"This is what we call a test winter," he says. "This will be a year where you will see whether or not you have plants that can handle this type of cold."