Trees Down, but Row Covers Held in Easley, SC (9am, Thursday, 3/2/17)

— Written By Barclay Poling
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Fig. 1. An important reason row covers did not “take flight” last night across our region was a very timely rain storm that kept the covers grounded (photo credit: Tom Baker, VA Beach). Whit Jones made a similar comment to me this late morning – high winds and rains came through Faison last night, and the wet covers (spread over the field) stayed put! Some growers had their covers rolled up, and  Tom Baker in VA Beach wrote:  “Our covers are at best very damp from almost 0.4” rain last night (almost an inch had been forecast). We do expect frost tomorrow morning. We’re going to pull our damp/wet covers by 4 p.m. so the wind and sunshine can dry them before dark. I remember frost forming under “wet” covers being a danger.Winds are forecast 10 gusting to 20 at 4:00, 7 gusting to 14 at 6:00, with dew point only 26-27. Covers should dry quickly. Thankfully, the wind direction will “help” deploy the covers.

Good morning,

For strawberry grower Eric Hunter, last night was an eventful evening in Easley, SC (read below). Lowel Yoder in Rustburg, VA, just informed me one minute ago that his SkyBit is calling for 21 F, and that they will be doubling up row covers for tonight and the weekend.

Earlier this morning I heard from Ron Cottle down  in Faison, NC, and his  concern was with high winds and “flapping” of covers and potential “mechanical” bruising of canopy and real damage to blossoms.

Of course, what makes all this even more bizarre is the fact that strawberry plants are NOW blooming this much on the 2nd of March!! I am not sure we needed a whole lot of “strategic forcing” this season! Gosh, just a few years ago (at about this time), my wife and I were caught driving back from VA Beach to Williamsburg in a snow storm!

As they say, “It is what it is.”  And, we just need to deal with it. However, I must confess that I don’t ever remember seeing this much extreme weather (especially the extreme heat in Feb as well as all these hail storms), and I have been on this strawberry weather beat since 1980! Please note we are now also looking at serious frost potential even into Sunday morning in many areas!

Two reports from Easley, SC

6:30 p.m. Wed night (3/1)

We are getting a hellacious storm. Haven’t seen anything like this in awhile. We’ve had some pretty serious hailstorms come through. So far smaller than dimes. Thankfully, or hopefully, the covers are protecting everything. Hopefully no further damage to the covers as well. I’ll check once this passes.

Today 8:11 a.m.

It seems our covers protected everything. No damage to the covers either. Thankfully the covers were drenched as 70mph+ winds came through with the hail. Lots of large trees down as well. That was some storm.
Reports of hail as large as golf balls was widespread throughout our area. I don’t know how large it was here as I wasn’t home, but Kristi said most of it was dime size.

Rustburg, VA

SkyBit was in my inbox this morning! Thanks.

21 in the canopy Saturday morning. We’ll certainly be double covering blooming stuff.

Lowell Yoder

Faison, NC

(1/2) Do you think its going to frost here tomorrow night? Looking at the wind speed here Friday I think it may be a problem for our row covers.

(2/2) You remember seeing the plants a few years ago, and what the covers did to them with real heavy winds

My reply:

I have looked at AWIS for Goldsboro over next several days as well as AccuWeather:  here is what I think…winds are probably still up in 15 mph range this morning (and were high last night) with gust as high as 22 mph? Even so, the winds will taper off significantly today and be dead calm tonight. Not a very low minimum tomorrow morning (FR) but I suspect heavy frost potential Friday morning…not so much due to low temp, but the temp in canopy will be low enough for frost to form at relatively high dew points on Friday morning. Then, Friday morning wind direction changes and winds resume and winds may be in upper teens much of afternoon on Friday. Friday night and Sat morning will continue to be windy (compared to night before that is calm) and it will be harder to make frost because of the lower dew points and winds.Goldsboro

To answer your question about the winds, I don’t think they will be quite high enough to cause “mechanical” bruising of canopy and real damage to blossoms, like you did see a few years ago in a situation like this one. When winds get into the 30 mph + category, then we can have potential to do real damage to the crop because of the “flapping” (or, beating) of the covers against the crop. Other than some wind gusts into low 20s this morning (Thur), I do look for winds to subside this afternoon, and then tonight it will be DEAD CALM and conditions will be “right” for frost on Friday morning. A grower has the option of protecting with row cover, or using sprinkler irrigation — if you are concerned about wind damage to crop today, or tomorrow. Myself, I don’t think the winds in the forecast for this location (Goldsboro/Faison) will be high enough to cause the kind of mechanical injury you saw a few years ago.

Fri/Sat

Winds will be strong again tomorrow during the day (Friday), and it looks like they will stay up through the night and morning. If this is true, and the temperature minimum Sat. morning only reaches about 28-29, then we may have a pretty safe situation (open blooms in absence of ice crystals can handle down to 28 F). However, I am afraid we are looking at potential for a good frost event again on Sunday morning – see the AWIS Goldsboro pdf for hourly details on minimum temps, winds and dew points. Remember, if you do do anything with watering, be sure to consult these hourly forecasts to have some idea on wet bulb temps, and be sure you are running water before wet bulb drops below 33 F.

Sun morning

Regarding Sunday morning, take a close look at today’s Skybit for your farm, and I am guessing that if they are calling for 27 F air temp (at weather shelter height of about 6 ft), it could be at least a few degrees colder down at the strawberry canopy level — maybe 25 F. A single row cover of 1 to 1.25 oz can handle that. But, for growers who may be seeing mid-20s and lower (at anytime this weekend), it is a good idea to double up! If you are headed into low 20s, and do not have extra row covers, then you should be setting up to sprinkle on top of covers as well.

AWIS HOURLY FORECASTS

North Carolina

10-DAY DETAILED HOURLY WEATHER FORECASTS

Ahoskie-Tri-Cou Albemarle_AP Andrews Asheboro
Asheville_Munic Beaufort-Michae Boone_NC Burlington-Burl
Cape_Hatteras_AG Chapel_Hill-Hor Charlotte Cherry_Point
Clinton_NC Concord_NC Currituck_NC Edenton-Northea
Elizabeth_City Elizabethtown_NC Erwin-Harnett_C Fayetteville_AP
Fort_Bragg/Simm Franklin/Macon_C Gastonia-Gaston Goldsboro_AFB
Goldsboro_NC Greensboro Greenville_AP_NC Hickory
Jacksonville Jacksonville_(A Jefferson_AP_NC Kenansville-Dup
Kill_Devil_Hills Kinston_AP Lexington-David Lincolnton_AP
Louisburg_NC Lumberton_AP_NC Mackall_AAF Manteo/Dare_Co
Maxton Mcalf_Bogue_Fiel Monroe_AP_NC Morganton-Morga
Mount_Airy-Moun New_Bern North_Wilkesbor Oxford_NC
Piney_Island_Bom Pope_AFB Raleigh-Durham Reidsville_AP
Roanoke_Rap_AP Roanoke_Rapids_R Rockingham_NC Rocky_Mount-Wils
Roxboro_AP Rutherfordton Salisbury-Rowan Sanford_NC
Shelby_AP_NC Smithfield_AP Southern_Pines Southport_NC
Statesville-Sta Tarboro_AP Wadesboro_AP Washington-Warr
Whiteville_NC Wilmington_AP_NC Winston-Salem

South Carolina

10-DAY DETAILED HOURLY WEATHER FORECASTS

Aiken_AP Anderson_Co_Air Barnwell_AP Beaufort_Cnty_AP
Beaufort_SC Bennettsville_Je Camden_AP Charleston_Exec_
Charleston_Muni Cheraw_AP Chester_AP Clemson-Clemson
Columbia-Columb Columbia/McEnti Columbia_Metro Conway_AP
Darlington Florence_SC Georgetown_AP_SC Greenville_Donal
Greenville_Down Greenville-Spart Greenwood-Green Hartsville_AP
Hilton_Head_AP Kingstree_AP Lancaster-McWhir Laurens_AP
Manning_AP Marion_AP_SC Moncks_Corner_AP Mount_Pleasant_A
Myrtle_Beach Newberry_AP North_Myrtle_Be Orangeburg-Oran
Pickens_AP Rock_Hill Spartanburg_Down Summerville_AP
Sumter_AP Sumter_SC Walterboro_AP Winnsboro_AP

Virginia

10-DAY DETAILED HOURLY WEATHER FORECASTS

Abingdon Ashland_VA Charlottesville Chesapeake-Ches
Culpeper Danville Dublin/New_Riv Emporia_VA
Farmville Fentress_Naval_A Fort_Belvoir/Da Fort_Eustis/Fel
Franklin/J_B_Ro Hillsville Hot_Springs/Ing Jonesville_AP
Langley_AFB Leesburg/Godfre Louisa-Louisa_C Lynchburg
Manassas_Muni(A Marion/Wythev Martinsville Mecklenburg/Bru
Melfa/Accomack Newport_News Norfolk_Hampton_ Norfolk_NAS
Norfolk_VA Oceana Orange_VA Petersburg_(AWO
Quantico Richlands_AP Richlands_VA Richmond
Richmond_Chester Roanoke Shannon_Arpt Stafford_AP_VA
Staunton-Shenan Suffolk-Suffolk Tappahannock_AP Virginia_Tech_A
Wakefield_AP Wallops_Island Warrenton_Fauqui Washington_Dulle
West_Point_VA Williamsburg_VA Winchester_Rgnl Wise/Lonesome_P

Georgia

10-DAY DETAILED HOURLY WEATHER FORECASTS

Albany_Municipa Alma/Bacon_Co Americus_AP Athens_Municipa
Atlanta/DeKalb Atlanta/Fulton Atlanta_Intl_Ar Atlanta_Paulding
Augusta/Bush_Fi Augusta_Daniel_F Bainbridge_GA Blakely_AP
Brunswick_GA Brunswick/Glync Canton_GA Carrollton_AP
Cartersville_AP Claxton_AP Columbus_GA Covington_GA_AP
Dalton-Dalton_M Douglas_Muni Dublin/WHBarron Fitzgerald_AP
Fort_Benning Ft_Stewart/Wrig Gainesville_AP_G Greensboro_GA
Homerville_AP Hunter_(AAF) Jesup_AP La_Grange
Lakeland Lawrenceville_AP Macon_AP Marietta
Marietta/Cobb Milledgeville_AP Moultrie_Muni_AP Newnan-Newnan_C
Peachtree_City Rome_GA Savannah Statesboro_GA
Swainsboro_AP Sylvania_AP_GA Thomaston_AP Thomasville_AP
Thomson_GA Tifton_AP Valdosta Valdosta/Moody
Vidalia Warner_Robins_A Washington_GA Washington_GA
Waycross_AP Winder_AP

Maryland

10-DAY DETAILED HOURLY WEATHER FORECASTS

Aberdeen Andrews_AFB Annapolis_Naval Baltimore_Sci_Ce
Baltimore/Wash Cambridge/Dorche College_Park_AP Cumberland_AP
Easton_MD Fort_Meade Frederick_MD Gaithersburg_AP
Hagerstown_AP Leonardtown Middle_River Oakland_MD_AP
Ocean_City_AP Patuxent_River Salisbury Stevensville_AP
St_Inigoes/Webst Washington_DC_AP Westminster_AP

Accurate forecast made from this website on Sunday night:

Forecast discussion day 3 – 5  (1 Mar – 3 Mar) Large swing in temperatures expected from much above early to below normal late in period; likely widespread rain showers/and thunderstorms some possibly severe early to mid period with scattered rain/snow showers late in the period. Early in the period a large warm high pressure system will slowly move east of the region into the Atlantic. At the same time a strong low pressure system will form in the Upper Mississippi River Valley that will move northeast into Canada by late in the period. Early in the period, this pressure pattern will bring a strong southwest flow, temperatures 15-25 F above normal with widespread rain showers developing from west to east. By mid period expect a very strong cold front associated with the low pressure system to sweep through the area. The cold front will bring widespread showers and thunderstorms to the entire region. Some of the thunderstorms will very likely be severe with high winds, heavy downpours and even tornadoes possible. Behind the front expect 20 – 30 F temperature drops to 2- 4 F below normal. By late in the period the rain showers change to widely scatter rain/snow showers. Early in the period expect high temperatures to range from the low 80s in the far southern portions to upper 60s northern sections. Low temperatures ranging from the low 50s in northern sections to mid 60s in the southern sections. By late in the periods expect high temperatures to range from the mid  40s to low 60s. Low temperatures ranging from the upper 20s to upper 30s. Precipitation amounts will likely in the 0.60 – 0.90” range.

Keep checking the OUTLOOK (made each Sunday night)…it’s going to continue to be a roller coaster!

Here is what we expect after March 3

Forecast discussion day 6 – 8:  (4 Mar – 6 Mar) Temperatures start below normal then warm to above normal; mostly dry entire period. During this period, expect a strong cold high pressure system to move through the region from the northwest to southeast. Early in the period the temperatures will run 2 – 4 F below normal under northwest flow. By late in the period temperatures will warm to 5 – 10 F above normal under southwest flow as the high pressure system moves into the Atlantic. Expect the high pressure system to cause dry conditions during the period. The only exception could be some scattered showers developing in the extreme western sections of the region by late in the period. Early in the period, expect high temperatures to range from the mid 40s to low 60s. Low temperatures ranging from the upper 20s to upper 30s. By late in the period expect the high temperatures to range from the low 80s in the far southern portions to upper 60s northern sections. Low temperatures ranging from the upper 40s in northern sections to mid 60s In the southern sections. Precipitation amounts will likely in the 0.00 – 0.05” range.

Forecast discussion day 9 – 11:  (7 Mar – 9 Mar) Large swing in temperatures expected from much above early to much below normal mid-late period; widespread rain showers and thunderstorms some possibly severe likely early with scattered snow showers mid-late in the period. By early in the period expect the strong high pressure system to be well into the Atlantic. Once again a strong low pressure system forms in Upper Mississippi River Valley and moves northeastward into New England then very slowly north into Canada by late in the period. By early in period expect a very strong cold front associated with the low pressure system to sweep through the area bringing widespread heavy showers and strong thunderstorms with the potential for widespread severe weather for the entire region. Ahead of the front expect temperatures to be 10 – 20 F above normal. Behind the front expect 20 – 30 F temperature drops to 5 – 15 F below normal. By mid period the rain showers linger and change to scattered rain/snow showers. Very early in the period expect high temperatures to range from the mid 70s in the far southern portions to upper 60s northern sections with temperatures dropping rapidly from west to east. Low temperatures ranging from the low 50s in northern sections to mid 60s in the southern sections. By late in the periods expect high temperatures to range from the upper 30s to low 60s. Low temperatures ranging from the mid 20s to upper 30s. Precipitation amounts will likely in the 0.75 – 1.20” range.