Field Observations on a Frosty Night Always Make You More Confident and NC, SC, GA, VA, MD, KY Updates (2:30pm, Thur. March 15, 2018)
Fortunately, most strawberry growers know from experience that it is always a good idea to do “a little wandering around in the field in the early morning to see what is really going on.” One grower in North Carolina’s Inner Bank region in Hertford County, shared with me that his wife thinks, “I’m a little nuts to wander around in the cold in the wee hours of the morning when it isn’t really necessary.”
However, this morning it was! None of the forecasts for his area predicted just how cold it got this morning in his location, and I had several calls this early morning from growers in VA (near Richmond), Faison, NC and Sanford, NC, where temperatures went below the minimums that were in the forecast. This sort of thing does happen, and by walking your field(s) “in the wee hours” of the morning, you can “keep yourself out of a problem.” As one veteran strawberry grower said to me this morning, doing these field walks, “makes me more confident.”
A South Carolina grower, Clyde Gurosik, commented in a recent advisory about the value of having REAL TIME weather data! You may recall his comments in an advisory on 3/4/18 (https://strawberries.ces.ncsu.edu/2018/03/north-carolina-awis-frost-freeze-forecast-for-tonight-1230 p.m.-sunday-3-4-18/), and how he is using UGA’s weather data service www.weather.uga.edu to monitor in real time temperature, dew points, wind direction, wind speed and wind gusts. Clyde is fortunate that his farm in N. Augusta tracks very nicely (in real time)with the the weather station in Clarks Hill-SC.
I have always been a big fan of the NC Climate Office’s CRONOS system: https://climate.ncsu.edu/cronos, and you can go on their home page your can point and click on a weather station closest to your farm. When I was at NC State, I would go to Central Crops Research Station to get hourly data retrieval on things like air temperature, dewpoint, wind speed and direction – similar to what Clyde is doing with UGA system (they are updating every 15 min).
In this 2 p.m. advisory today, Mark and I simply wish to provide you with the latest updates from AWIS, and one thing I can say for sure, is how incredibly variable conditions can be from location to location in North Carolina, or any state for that matter in mid-South. And, it is a good idea for you to try to figure out which of these AWIS locations really is the best fit for your farm?
A grower from the Inner Banks wrote to me today:
“You ask yesterday if Edenton AWIS worked for me and I said that I used Edenton and Ahoskie AWIS and go by the lowest one .Last night was a good example.Edenton showed temps in the mid 30’s and no frost while Ahoskie showed temps in the mid 20’s and frost. Our temp this morning was 27 at eye level and 25 on top of the covers.Bloom temp was 35. I did run the drip starting about 1:30 a.m.”
So, please check out the AWIS locations nearest your farm to try to see which one works best?
Before signing off for today, I just got this photo from John Gross in Sanford (where it got incredibly cold this morning), and because his row covers did not completely dry out yesterday, he did not chance it last night, and he ran water again. He got some of his covers off today, and sent this photo just now. He said he had some losses (especially from last Friday), but he felt it was definitely worth it!