BEATRICE, NEB - A warm end to the winter and start to the spring, is now turned to a warm and wet start to the spring, after areas of southeast Nebraska and northwest Kansas received heavy midweek rain.

What does that mean for early season plant and crop growth? I spoke with Gage County Extension Educator Nicole Stoner to find out.

“You’re going to have some of those spring things come up,” Stoner said. “Maybe even a bit earlier, we had tulips coming up in February. When they do that, it’s just them doing their thing. You can’t stop that, just let them grow, but the biggest thing is some of those things you can control.”

Some of those things include tempered levels of garden maintenance. Stoner recommends leaving old leaf litter until it warms up in later April and May. After a winter where southeast Nebraska received minimal snow, that also impacts spring plant growth.

“A dry winter is more damaging to our plants,” Stoner said. “Snow cover actually insulates your plants, and it’s windy in Nebraska, especially in winter, and when you don’t have that snow cover it damages the plants more."

Local areas of southeast Nebraska and northern Kansas received heavy rain, with nearly a half-inch falling in Beatrice. That rain makes up for the lack of snow in the winter and the continuing drought from last year.

“We’re still in a drought from last year,” Stoner said. “Think about June, July, August, it’s very dry. Getting a good amount of spring moisture is important in making sure we make it through the dry months.”