Heat Continues Today With Moderating Temperatures by Thursday – Good Outlook for Memorial Weekend (11:45am, Tue., 5/19/15)

— Written By Barclay Poling

Good morning,

I had a call yesterday from VA grower, Aaron Goode, and his first words to me on the phone were, “it’s hot up here (Moseley, VA).”  We did not set any records in Raleigh, but we did get up to 91 F. All growers have been hopefully running a daily morning drip cycle on these extra warm days, and then coming back in the afternoon or evening on scorchers like yesterday with another hour or so of drip. I am not aware of any growers in Carolinas doing  evaporative cooling during these hot spells with sprinkling (it is not recommended any longer during harvest); and, we learned in some studies at Clayton that sprinkling really was not any more effective at this time of year than drip irrigation. The combination of an adequate canopy and dripping each day is your ticket to keeping the plants ‘fresh’ looking and productive. Yes, you must start picking earlier in the morning on these hotter days, and pick closer. You don’t wish to leave any red-ripe berries just dangling on those bed shoulders, as the black plastic will cook those berries!

After we talked about the weather, Aaron mentioned that he was hoping to see some follow-through blossoms on his Camarosa, but he just is not seeing that many?

bloom comp

Fig. 1. Here you can see later season bloom on Camarosa plants – this shot was taken at Ashley Porter’s farm in Willow Spring, NC, on April 28 (the blooms in this photo should be ready for ready for picking this Memorial weekend)

Aaron recalled that  at this time of year in May 2012 he was seeing a great many Camarosa blooms (that was one of the mildest winters on record). In 2012, Aaron picked Camarosa all the way into early July at his farm in Central VA.

Growers north of Aaron, such as Maryland grower Russ Shlagel, were seeing some excellent blooms on Chandler over Mother’s Day weekend (Figure 2), and these will be perfect for early June. It is interesting to keep seeing new blossoms on the DN Albion — even on these warmer days in May, it just keeps throwing out fresh blossoms. A variety like this can do a lot to de-compress a strawberry season. Instead of everything happening in just 3-4 weeks, wouldn’t it nice to have a variety that just keeps plugging along over perhaps 2 months!

russ on may 10Fig. 2. Photo sent by Maryland grower Russ Shlagel to E. Barclay Poling on May 10th of Chandler. These Chandler plants will bear into early to June. In much of NC the Chandler season is now winding down. Overall, its been a pretty good Chandler year. I don’t know if I can recall a better year on Chandler quality?

Yes, we will be very warm again today – see my SkyBit for Clayton:

20150519st1.NCCLY

A cold front will be moving through this mid-week (as was in our forecast this past weekend), and then there will be a nice  cooling off on Thursday (low 70s air, mid-70s canopy), and somewhat cooler weather will hopefully last through Memorial weekend. I anticipate another big weekend at the NC State Farmers Market in Raleigh this Saturday (Fig. 3).

commercial berriesFig. 2. Record crowds showed up at State Farmers Market in Raleigh on Mother’s Day weekend, and there were more than ample supplies of berries that whole weekend. It will be interesting to see how things turn out this weekend? Camarosa has really been winding down since the surge of fruit that was picked during the heat of last week at this time.

Wishing you a successful Memorial Day Weekend!

Dr. E. Barclay Poling
Professor Emeritus (Strawberry Plasticulture Researcher)
Department of Horticultural Science
Campus Box 7609, 162A Kilgore Hall
NC State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7609
“An idealist believes the short run does not count. A cynic believes the long run does not matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”

Sidney J. Harris, In: Reclaiming a Lost Heritage – Land-Grant & Other Higher Education Initiatives for the Twenty-first Century