10-Day-Weather Forecast: Flower Cold Protection Is a Judgment Call in NC

— Written By

Dear all,

it is not much of a surprise anymore, but this season is very early. While Sir Walter Wally predicted several more weeks of winter, it for sure does not look like he was as much informed as he might have wished.

However, it is with very high certainty we can expect several periods of frost over the coming weeks in North Carolina, and with plants are already being in bloom (Figure 1), many especially in North Carolina ask the question: should we frost protect now or should we wait a few more weeks?

Image of strawberry blossoms

Figure 1: Strawberry blossoms late January in North Carolina 2020.

Here are some thoughts on that:

It sounds too familiar, but whether or not to protect your blossoms from potential frost damage is a judgment call at this point of time. Decisions need to be made based on (1) the stage of your plants; (2) the available amount of labor; (3) the readiness of your market. Frost protection that early in the season can become troublesome and very labor intensive.

Generally we do not recommend to protect your flowers at this time of the year in North Carolina, unless you are prepared to pick and sell early! Please only start to frost protect, if you can answer all the following questions with yes:

a) Are your flowers far along and show more than 10% of total bloom? Often the time and labor you invest to protect flowers won’t pay off.

b) Are you prepared for labor intensive frost protection over the coming weeks? Once you start to protect, you are committed.

c) Are you prepared to pick and sell in March? Are your customers ready? Is your labor ready?

Temperatures in the 20s are expected in some areas in North Carolina on Saturday mornings (Figure 2).

Image of Friday temperature chart Image of Saturday temperature chart Image of Sunday temperature chart

Figure 2: Minimum Temperatures for the weekend (Fr 2/14/2020 – Sun 2/16/2020)

Our recommendations are not to protect at this point of time, but to wait until end of February. However, since this seems to be an unusual early year, your specific situation might be different.

10-day weather forecast for the region:

North Carolina:

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

Virginia:

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

Maryland:

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

New Jersey:

Andover Atlantic_City_I Belmar-Farmdale Caldwell/Essex
Millville Morristown_Muni Mt_Holly_SJR_AP Newark
Somerville Sussex_AP Teterboro Trenton
Wildwood(AWOS) Wrightstown

South Carolina:

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

Georgia:

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 Waycross_AP
Winder_AP

Tennessee:

Chattanooga/Lov Clarksville_TN Crossville_AP Dyersburg
Elizabethton_AP Jackson_TN Knoxville_AP Memphis_AP
Millington Nashville_Metro Oak_Ridge_TN Smyrna
Tri-City_RGNL_AP

As always, I hope this helps. Please stay safe,

Mark Hoffmann