Vernalization, sensing of prolonged cold, is important for seasonal flowering in eudicots and monocots. While vernalization silences a repressor (FLC, MADS-box transcription factor) in eudicots, it induces an activator (TaVRN1, an AP1 clade MADS-box transcription factor) in monocots. The mechanism for TaVRN1 induction during vernalization is not well understood. Here we reveal a novel mechanism for controlling TaVRN1 mRNA accumulation in response to prolonged cold sensing in wheat. The carbohydrate-binding protein VER2, a jacalin lectin, promotes TaVRN1 upregulation by physically interacting with the RNA-binding protein TaGRP2. TaGRP2 binds to TaVRN1 pre-mRNA and inhibits TaVRN1 mRNA accumulation. The physical interaction between VER2 and TaGRP2 is controlled by TaGRP2 O-GlcNAc modification, which gradually increases during vernalization. The interaction between VER2 and O-GlcNAc-TaGRP2 reduces TaGRP2 protein accumulation in the nucleus and/or promotes TaGRP2 dissociation from TaVRN1, leading to TaVRN1 mRNA accumulation. Our data reveal a new mechanism for sensing prolonged cold in temperate cereals.