The southeast is in the midst of the coldest temperatures seen in a decade, and Debbie Weschler, Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Strawberry Association says strawberry growers are prepared:
“The strawberry growers have been busy getting prepared for the last few days and most of them are putting row covers over their plants, using bags of rocks to hold them down. It protects them well in this type of weather and it helps that the berries are very close to the ground.”
Seasoned berry growers are prepared for lows in the 20’s, but Weschler says, while extreme, growers are prepared for temperatures in the teens or single digits:
“If it were twenty degrees they wouldn’t be doing anything. The strawberries are pretty dormant. But these temperatures are cold and there is danger of damage to the plants, especially in the crown of the plant.”
Weschler explains that if growers do experience some freeze damage, all will not be lost:
“It might mean losing a week or so, or maybe a reduced crop load. Its unknown, we don’t really know what kind of damage there would be.”
If freeze damage occurs to the crowns, Weschler says will just delay the spring’s first harvest:
“We will not be looking at a total crop loss, it would just be a percentage and probably only on the earliest days that there would be berries.”
North Carolina is the nation’s fourth largest producers of strawberries.
Executive Secretary for the North Carolina Strawberry Grower Association, Debbie Weschler.