Do Plants Experience Wind Chill?

Posted by & filed under Don Buma Blog, Garden News, Horticulture News.

Evergreen ConeDuring some of the coldest  parts of the winter when weathermen report bone-chilling wind chill factors, have you ever wondered if plants also are subject to those same wind chills? Here is what Kansas State University, which sometimes experiences amazing wind chills, has to say about this topic. “Though wind chills can have a profound effect on warm-blooded animals’ ability to keep warm, plants do not respond to wind chill indexes in the same way.  This is because warm-blooded animals must maintain a temperature above that of their surroundings. Higher winds mean greater heat loss.  Plants, however, do not need to maintain a temperature above that of the air.  Therefore, wind will not increase cold damage to a plant.   For example, a wind chill of 0 degrees at a temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit will not cause any more cold injury to plant tissue than a wind chill index of 10 degrees above zero at 20 degrees Fahrenheit.” That is the good news. On the other hand, although the wind chill may not affect a plant, just winter winds can cause plant damage by removing moisture from evergreen foliage. This is especially true if the ground is frozen and roots are unable to take up water to replace that lost through the leaves.  There is usually sufficient water from rainfall going into the winter, but checking the soil around prized evergreens can be worthwhile if there are consistently windy conditions and no additional moisture in the form of rain or snow.