10-Day-Weather Forecast: Flower Cold Protection Is a Judgment Call in NC
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?
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).
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:
As always, I hope this helps. Please stay safe,