WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – “We’ve had frost/freezes this late in the year but it seems like the weather’s just been so up and down recently,” said Mike Skinner, owner of Strawberries On 903.
As temperatures drop to near freezing later tonight, Skinner’s 4 acres of strawberry plants could be in jeopardy.
“What we’re more concerned about is these blooms that are just blooming out. They cannot stand anything below 32 degrees. If they get a frost slash freeze on them, it’ll destroy the bloom and you won’t create any fruit,” Skinner noted.
The quality of the young fruit could also be poor if it succumbs to the cold.
To combat it, Skinner covers the plants with a lightweight fabric. It traps the air around the plant and keeps it as much as 5 – 7 degrees warmer than the surrounding air.
In most cases, this is enough to protect from a killing freeze.
Strawberries aren’t the only crop farmers are worried about.
Next door, Andy McLawhorn, owner of the Reston Garden Market, has a large blueberry crop. He’s not too concerned about them since the fruit has already set. However, he is worried about some warm season crops he’s taken an early gamble on.
“I have set out some early crops anticipating a higher price with the earlier produce,” said McLawhorn. “Peppers and tomatoes and squash and cucumbers are what I’m covering up today.”
If he has to replant, McLawhorn said it will push back his harvest by at least a month. He also has some grape vines and apple trees blooming right now. There’s not much he can do to protect them so he’s hoping for the best.