Freeze Warning Issued, Frost Could Damage Plants

Local farmers and gardeners will have an eye on the thermometer tonight and tomorrow morning as temperatures will likely dip below the freezing mark which could threaten plants already in the spring blooming process.

A Freeze Warning is in effect from 2:00 AM until 9:00 AM Wednesday. According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Gail Hartfield, temperatures in the local area will likely range between 27 and 31 degrees early Wednesday morning, most likely around 5 a.m. That creates potentially dangerous conditions for local growers.

“It is a pretty good bet that we will have some frost in the area,” Ms. Hartfield said. “We are advising people to take precautions with their plants.”

Frost-Damaged-TreeMs. Hartfield said areas in rural areas, away from heavily populated areas are more likely to have frost conditions.

Harnett County Extension Agent Matt Jones said locally strawberry farmers are most likely to be affected. He said strawberry plants have already started to flower which is potentially dangerous. Farmers have one major way to combat frost dangers.  “Most of the farmers will be irrigating their strawberry crops tonight,” Mr. Jones said.

The water will form ice when temperatures go below the freezing mark which helps protect the plants.

Local strawberry farmer Sandy Langdon said at this stage of the growing season the blooms are vulnerable to damage. The ice barrier will protect the young flowers.  Mr. Langdon said he will run water all night to protect his crops which he grows on his farm on Turlington Road between Dunn and Coats.  “No colder than it is going to get we should be OK unless we have an equipment failure,” Mr. Langdon said.  He said covers will also be used to protect some of his crops.

Dealing with weather issues is nothing new for the veteran farmer.

“We are always worried when temperatures start going towards freezing, but we are prepared,” Mr. Langdon said.

Mr. Jones said most other crops have not been planted in the local area. Many growers start the season’s crops in local greenhouses before transplanting them to the fields.  “We have some farmers who have put potatoes and cabbage in the ground, but the frost won’t affect that too much,” Mr. Jones said.

Ms. Hartfield said it is not unusual for there to be frost in April but it could be particularly damaging this year because plants are further along in the growing process.

“It is nothing unusual to get a frost in April, but this year we had warmer weather in March so some things started blooming earlier than usual,” she said. “That might make the damage a little worse.”

Erwin Police Chief Bill Morris has grown peaches in the past and has a few trees remaining near his home. He said freezing temperatures will ruin them. “If it comes a frost, they will be dead,” Mr. Morris said. Courtesy The Daily Record