This year has gotten off to a cold start. Across most of Nebraska, soil temperatures have been too low to plant vegetable gardens.
Typically by now, soil would be warm enough to plant many cool-season vegetables such as radishes, lettuce and spinach.
Instead, soil temperatures are running about 5 to 10 degrees below normal for this time of year. With temperatures generally in the low to mid-30s, soil is barely warm enough for minimal germination.
Temperatures closer to the low to mid-40s are ideal for spinach and lettuce, and 50 degrees is best for peas.
Changes in soil temperature lag behind air temperatures, but the inevitable arrival of successive warm days will make it possible soon to plant.
Farmers have not yet fallen behind in their planting. Their biggest concern is the severe lack of moisture in the soil, as a consequence of drought.
For a map of soil moisture temperatures in Nebraska, click here: http://cropwatch.unl.edu/web/cropwatch/cropwatchsoiltemperature
For a list of optimal soil temperatures for germination, click here http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g2090/build/g2090.pdf
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and CropWatch, Nebraska Farm Bureau