30 Day Ag Weather Outlook VA – TN- NC – SC (March 3, 2014)

— Written By

Dear Growers, Agents, Agronomists and Others,

Presently, we are 40-50 F colder than yesterday this time in Raleigh.  Winter storm Titan is winding down at this hour (5 pm), but we are getting freezing rain presently in Raleigh-Goldsboro-Burlington (5 pm), and bitterly cold tomorrow morning (3/4/14)...we will probably see a minimum of 15 F (record low is 13) in Raleigh.  That temperature is cold enough to cause severe damage to emerged flower buds.  The break we may have gotten today is that the outer surface of the row covers is covered in a light ice coating (1/10th inch ice), but the covers do not appear to have gotten soaked and frozen through to the canopy underneath – as was feared today (that fear triggered an earlier advisory re: sprinkling on top of already frozen through row covers – does not appear that has happened today…thank goodness).  For growers with more advanced crops (emerged flower buds, popcorns), it would be a good idea to check on temperatures beneath the row covers tonight with your digital thermometer and thermocouple inserted in the buds and popcorn blossoms — you can insert that thermocouple right now (before its too dark), and my hope is that the buds and popcorns are nice and dry and NOT ENCASED IN ICE. With row covers on top of dry plant tissues, we should get some pretty good protection levels tonight and tomorrow morning, especially where the covers have been doubled up, like Lee Berry in Ellerbe did before this freeze (1.2 oz +1 oz). It really doesn’t get any better than a double row cover — as long as everything is dry and not frozen through!!

In a call from a grower north of Winston Salem a minute ago, it was reported that they had a 3/4 inch of snow, but no ice underneath (that’s good).  The grower asked if the snow on top of the unfrozen covers will be a good thing, and I said it should be helpful.  But the real PLUS was that “annual ryegrass” has lifted the covers up to such a height that there is a very nice air layer between the cover and the crop canopy below!!  Talk about a lucky break!

Chandler crop in Western Piedmont:  the Chandler crop in our western piedmont area has not progressed that far (tight buds are still very tight and just barely emerged from crowns). Even with a minimum of say 14-15 F tonight, I don’t think this freeze presents any threat to Chandler plants that are still in this very tight bud stage where he buds have not emerged from the crown.  However, the Sweet Charlie crop in the western piedmont is much further along, and you can see lots of emerged flower buds right now!  Even some popcorns.  So I am glad the grower who called took my advice and has applied a row cover to this variety.  

What’s ahead for the rest of this month?

I heard a discussion on TWC today that lower than average temperatures are expected for our region for March-April-May, with “most of that chunk of colder than normal temperatures coming in March.”

What follows is our 30 Day Ag Weather Outlook for VA-TN-NC-SC (that was done at 12:43 am this morning) – we issue this every Monday on this website.

The weather pattern still looks to be quite active with below average temperatures for March.  Still expect frequent passages of low pressure systems and cold fronts through the region.  


Figure 1.  Period 1 (5 Mar – 7 Mar).

Forecast discussion day 3 – 5:  (5 Mar -7 Mar) Changeable temperatures from below to near average with precipitation moving in late in period. This period looks to be changeable with temperature swings from well below average and dry early in the period with highs expected to be in the high 30s to mid 40s and lows in the upper 10s to mid 30s.  Then warming later in the period to near average with rain as a low pressure moves northeastward from the Gulf states. Expect highs to be in 50s and lows in the 30s late in the period as a low pressure moves slowly through the region from the southeast. The exact track of the low will determine precipitation type, but at this time rain seems most likely across region. Precipitation amount will likely be in the 0.20 – 0.40 liquid water equivalent range.


Figure 2.  Period 2 (8 Mar – 10 Mar)

Forecast discussion day 6 – 8:  (8 Mar – 10 Mar) Changeable temperatures from near average to below average with periods of precipitation.  The period will likely start off near average with temperatures being close to average for the season with highs in the 50s – 60s and lows in the 30s.  A rapid cool down with rain and snow showers is likely with the passage of a cold front mid-period bringing highs down into the 30s – 40s and lows in the 20s. Periods of snow and rain showers have the potential to produce precipitation in the 0.10 – 0.30 liquid water equivalent range.


Figure 3. Period 3 (11 Mar – 13 Mar)

Forecast discussion day 9 – 11: (11 Mar – 13 Mar) Below average temperatures with periods of light precipitation.  The period will likely see below average temperatures as a strong cold high pressure system from Canada drops into the central US. Highs are expected to be in the high 30s to low 50s and lows in the 20s to mid 30s, with a slow warming trend late in the period. Precipitation is expected to be very light and showery during the period but what falls will be in the form of snow or a wintery mix changing to rain in the 0.00 – 0.10 liquid water equivalent range.


Figure 4. Period 4 (14 Mar – 16 Mar)

Forecast discussion day 12 – 14:  (14 Mar – 16 Mar) Below average temperatures and unsettled.  The period will likely see a continuation of below average temperatures as a strong cold front followed by cold high pressure system from Canada drops into the central US then eastward through the forecast regions. Highs are expected to be in the low to high 40s and lows in mid 20s -30s. Precipitation is expected to be light and showery during the period in the 0.15 – 0.25 liquid water equivalent range.

Outlook discussion day 15 – 22:  (17 Mar – 24 Mar):  Below average temperatures.  Trends at this point indicate this period will see a warming trend late in the period but likely remaining somewhat below average temperatures for the season.

Outlook discussion day 23 – 30:  (25 Mar – 1 Apr):  The period looks to be changeable with temperature swings from below average to above average.


Acknowledging the sponsors of this Weather Outlook:  The information in this advisory was made possible by private individual grower and industry gifts:

Level of Gift Giving:

$1500 or more (this is the level of giving we’ve encouraged for the strawberry industry’s  plant suppliers). I can’t say enough about this group!  This is an awesome level of suport, and without it, this altert service would have never happened!

  • Aarons Creek Farms, Inc., Gregg Gordon/Greg Williamson, Buffalo Junction, VA
  • Balamore Farm, Ltd., Joe Cooper, Great Village, Nova Scotia
  • Cottle Strawberry Nursery, Ron Cottle/Sonny Cottle/Whit Jones, Faison, NC
  • G & W Nurseries, Donna and Jim Goodson/Mitchell Wrenn, Damascus, AR, and Zebulon, NC
  • Westech Agriculture Ltd., Nora and Raymond Dorgan, Alberton, Prince Edward Island, Canada

$500 to $1499 (this is the level of giving we’ve encouraged if you are a state strawberry association, or perhaps you run a consulting group that benefits from these alerts). My most sincere thanks to Hunter Farms, Bob Rouse, and the new Virginia Strawberry Association!

  • Hunter Farms, Eric and Kristi Hunter, Easley, SC
  • Bob Rouse Agriculturist LLC, Denton, MD
  • Virginia Strawberry Association

$200 to $499:  We had a significant number of growers really “step up” and make gifts of $200 to $400.  Their generosity and leadership are very much appreciated!

  • Agriberry, LLC, Chuck and Anne Geyer, Hanover, VA
  • Barnes Farm & Produce LLC, Donnie Barnes/Heather Robinson, Willow Spring, NC
  • Bernie’s Berries, James Kenan and Bernice Kenan,  Greensboro, NC
  • J.E. Cooley Farms, Inc., Strawberry Hill, USA, Chesnee, SC
  • DJ’s Berry Patch LLC, Darin and Jessica Jones, Willow Spring, NC
  • Leggett Farming Partnership, Brent and Sue Leggett, Nashville, NC
  • Piedmont Produce LLC, Alan L. Baucom, Monroe, NC
  • TC Smith Produce Farm, Curtis Smith, Seven Springs, NC
  • The Rudd Farm, Kenneth, Joan, Matt and Ken Rudd, Greensboro, NC
  • The Vollmer Farm, John and Russ Vollmer, Bunn, NC
  • Valley Home Farm, Nancy Edwards, Bob and Janet Potts, Wartrace, TN
  • Van Meter Family Farm, Danny and Trish Van Meter, Clarkson, KY
  • Whitted Bowers Farm, Rob Bowers, Cedar Grove, NC

$100 to $199:  We are still a little shy of our goal. Perhaps some of our more established  established operations can consider a gift at this level?  We had 19 farms and one nursery make gifts of $100 to $150 from 9 states!

  • Brookdale Farms & Produce, LLC, Tom Baker, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Carter Farms, Billy Carter, Eagle Springs, NC
  • Color Burst, Joe Burns, Grayson, GA
  • Cottle Strawberry Farm, Joy Cottle, Florence, SC
  • Craven and Kimberley Smith, Gibsonville, NC
  • Crown Orchard Co., Huff Chiles, Batesville, VA
  • Fifer Orchards, Bobby Fifer, Wyoming, DE
  • Fisher Farms Partnership, Beth Taylor, Whitakers, NC
  • Harman’s Produce, Paula Harman, Churchville, MD
  • Iseley Farm, Jane Iseley, Burlington, NC
  • Lassen Canyon Nursery, Elizabeth Ponce, Redding, CA
  • Maurer Farms, David Maurer, Wooster, OH
  • McCauley Farms, Larry and Frances McCauley, Burlington, NC
  • McNeil Farms, Steve McNeill, Sanford, NC
  • Mount Olympus Berry Farm, Mary and Ken West, Ruther Glen, VA
  • Sparacio Farms, Butch Sparacio, Bridgeton, NJ
  • The Collard Patch, Hal Gurley, Wake Forest, NC
  • The Hunter Farm, Nancy Anderson, Weddington, NC
  • Westover Farm, Timothy Miller, Mc Kenney, VA

$50 to $99: We really appreciate this support!

  • Horton Family Farm, David Horton, Windsor, VA


Dr. E. Barclay Poling

  • Retired Small Fruit Extension Specialist
    & Professor Emeritus
    Department of Horticultural Science
    Campus Box 7609, 162A Kilgore Hall
    NC State University
    Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Written By

Photo of Dr. Barclay PolingDr. Barclay PolingFormer Professor and Extension Specialist, Strawberries and Muscadines (919) 515-5373 (Office) barclay_poling@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
Posted on Mar 3, 2014
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