Grower Feedback Today…row Covers? (2pm, Sat., 1/3/15)

— Written By Barclay Poling
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Grower feedback…

1. Rustburg, VA (anticipated low of 9 F, Wed night/Thur morning)

Good morning.

You can put me down for $250. Just let me know how and where to send a check.

I’d encourage you to send another couple reminders next week. It’s been busy for a lot of folks the last week or two and probably many had good intentions.

We’re mostly covered up……been doing it slowly over the last couple of weeks for deer protection as much as anything. We’ll pull the last covers on after the rain ends.

Decembers lows have been interesting. Nothing below the mid twenties though not as many growing degree days as last year due to chilly daytime highs. We’re still under 500 gdd’s and I’m wondering if we should have covered in November for a week or two. I’m seeing leaf buds on lilacs and some budding on a forsythia. Reminds me a little of the winter of 2011/12 except for that November cold snap and of course next weeks chilly forecast.


Lowell Yoder

Editor’s note:  I realize this is not an easy time of year to be connecting with growers (as stated by Lowell), but one problem for me  is the expiration of critical weather subscriptions that feed directly into these updates! I am not planning to go out of pocket on this. Thus, we need to stick with a deadline of Jan. 9th.

2. Tom Baker, Pungo & Chesepeake, VA (anticipated low of 20)

Hi Barclay,

RE:  “We cut lots of crowns on a farm site that had no row covers in Davidson Co., and the Chandler crown tissues were all ivory white, despite temperatures in the low single digits last January.” (this morning’s berry-mg)

I strongly suspect there is a LOT more going on here than “just” the temperature, such as:

·        Duration of prior cold acclimation vs. duration of recent warmer weather?
·        Humidity/dew point during coldest hours?
·        Wind during coldest hours?
·        Soil temperature and moisture?
·        Sunshine vs. cloud cover leading up to and during coldest hours (were the plants “trying” to be “active” on the day before the cold night, or was it cloudy and they were more “slowed down)?

Yes, “further research and field testing is definitely needed” (your words) to understand absolutes and interactions, however, given the interaction of all the variables involved and the fact that it isn’t fun (if possible at all) to pull row covers when it’s too cold, too wet, and/or too windy (all factors beyond our control), it seems to me that would be better to err on the side of being covered and later determining maybe you didn’t need to be vs. not covering and later wishing you had been covered.

 Editor’s note:  I would like to respond to Tom’s comments about all the different variables to take into consideration at a later time (on road today), but the fact remains that we have ‘trusted’ for many many years that 10 F is a critical temp at this stage in winter for crown damage. My observation from field visits in March 2014  after a record freeze in Jan 2014, is that the critical temperature of 10 F is probably too conservative. Nonetheless, until we have more certain information, the grower has to make a decision to cover or not? Tom is going to pull covers – even in his location that may not go below 20. Think of the time and labor savings to growers if we knew that Chandler, for example, is fully hardy to 5 F when fully dormant.

3. Eric Hunter, Easley SC (8 F)

I’ll get the covers on as soon as the rain lets off. If I had to guess right now, we will see temps around 8-9 degrees based on the current forecast.


Thanks for the feedback!

Barclay Poling