Saturday’s Field Visits in Eastern NC, and Frosty Conditions Return Late in the Week (7pm, 2/28/16)
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I wanted to share some highlights of my field visit to Eastern NC yesterday afternoon. As everyone knows, we had a pretty good frost yesterday morning in NC with a number of areas going into mid-20s. But, in the fields I visited yesterday, I could not identify any benefit from having re-applied row covers.
No benefit from covering: This was likely due to the fact that: 1) many of the emerged flower buds had already been killed by previous freeze events (Fig. 1), and 2) it really did not get cold enough (mid-20s) to cause injury to the “live” emerged buds (Fig. 2). But, for any growers with open blossoms, applying row covers for this particular cold event was a good idea. But, they did not appear to be needed for emerged tight buds.
Fig. 1. These emerged “tight” flower buds (and blooms) were harvested from a single Camarosa fresh dug plant yesterday at 1 p.m. in Faison, NC, and we noted 6 dead flower buds and blooms, and 6 live tight flower buds ( 2.27.16). None of the dead buds appeared to have been injured by yesterday morning’s frost in mid-20s. However, a freeze on Valentine’s Day morning with a low in upper teens was the likely culprit!
Fig. 2. It did not appear that a frost with minimums in the mid to upper 20s caused any damage to emerged “tight” flower buds on 2.27.16. Most of the plants that I saw yesterday had only been recently cleaned up in the last week, and had no fully expanded new leaves. However, these plants can grow off quickly, especially after a few days of warmer temperature conditions!
Figs. 3 & 4. This particular Camarosa field had been cleaned up a week ago, and you could see new leaves “pushing out” from the center of the plant, but these are not fully expanded. These plants are still quite hardy, and it would likely take a minimum temperature in low 20s/upper teens, to cause any serious damage to the emerged tight bud stage. These plants are also “still a ways” from being in bloom.
Looking ahead to this week, there will be several days of very frosty conditions starting Thursday morning. But, temperatures may not be cold enough to be damaging to emerged flower buds (need to reach mid-20s, or lower). Early varieties, like Sweet Charlie, may be reaching the popcorn and open bloom stage any day now. Crops in popcorn and open bloom stage will require protection against the frosty conditions expected late this week.
Also, if you have been keeping your Camarosa and/or Chandler under row covers for an extended period this winter, you need to check these plants for presence of live popcorn and open blossoms. There is no point in forcing them, and then losing them to an easily managed frost! Be sure to get the row covers back on by no later than 2 p.m. in the day prior to the first frost event – they will likely then remain in place for at least several days.
Check out the AWIS 10-Day Detailed Forecast for Your Area for FROST
If you look at a town/city near your farm in the 10-Day Detailed (AWIS) forecast, you will see the “F” (frost) is in the forecast starting on Thursday morning in the Raleigh-Durham area (Table 2). But, in this piedmont section of the state, the crop is not as advanced as the Coastal Plain and Sandhills, and it is quite likely that NO COVER will be required at the end of this week, and weekend. Again, the emerged tight buds are quite hardy (as was demonstrated this weekend).
Table 2. Note “F” for frost designation in this AWIS 10-Day Detailed forecast for Raleigh Durham area starting on Thursday morning! It may be too windy for frost Friday morning, but frost is likely again on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Just click on AWIS 10-Day Forecast for Raleigh Durham (below) to see just how frosty it is going to get towards the end of this week and into early next week! Be sure to check out your area’s frost forecast by AWIS.
Overview of Minimum Temp. & Frost Conditions for MD-VA-NC-SC-GA
Here is the MD statewide min temp table for next 7 days: MD Min Temp Table
Here is the VA statewide min temp table for next 7 days: VA Min Temp Table
Here is the NC statewide min temp table for next 7 days: NC Min Temp Table
At Clayton, you will note that SkyBit is calling for canopy minimum of 30 F. These colder conditions later in the week will definitely favor frosts that will be damaging to open blossoms; but, it is unlikely that emerged tight flower buds will be in danger — as far as we can tell tonight! A lot can change during the course of the week.
Here is the SC statewide min temp table for next 7 days: SC Min Temp Table
Here is the GA statewide min temp table for next 7 days: GA Min Temp Table
Questions and Answers:
Mike Wilder, NCDA Agronomist in Zone 6, shared some observations and posed a question.
As I’ve mentioned in my last 2 communiques, we are on the verge of active frost protection. So far so good here though. It’s yet another new year to learn new lessons here in the transition zone + climate change to deal with. Always good to see you and hear what you have to say.
Phenology question: as we draw near the off / on cover, water season, help me with this one question – is it a safe ballpark assumption to think a newly emerged tight flower bud close to crown might make fruit in +- 40 days?