Extreme Warm Temperatures and What to Do?

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Extreme Warm Temperatures in Strawberries? What to do?

Dear all

Almost the entire region from Georgia in the South to Maryland in the North has experienced unusual warm temperatures, with 15-30 F above December averages every day. There will be a large temperature drop from Sunday to Monday night, which will reach lowest temperatures in the low 20s on Tuesday in some areas! These unusual temperature fluctuations have several implications for strawberry growers. As usual, we begin our post with an overall discussion provided by AWIS Weather Services, with whom we partner to develop weather advisories in Spring.

General Discussion and Weather Outlook

*** Coldest Morning Tuesday!
*** Quick Temperature Drop Sunday-Monday
*** Advective (Some Wind) Freeze Monday Morning
*** Radiational Freeze/Frost
*** Some Warming Again Middle-End Next Week
*** Signs of More Frequently Colder Latter Half January

Heaviest rain threat into Monday over Interior areas of the Southeast from Eastern Georgia through South Carolina and into Southern and Eastern North Carolina, due to a slowly moving in cold-front. A turn to breezy and much colder weather behind the front for later Sunday into Monday.

Temperatures will reach freezing and below on Monday morning, ranging from mid-upper 20s MD/Northern VA to mostly upper 20s-lower 30s Further South into the Carolinas and Georgia. There likely will be a temperature drop of 30+ degrees in a few hours behind the front on Sunday.

Coldest temperatures will occur next Tuesday morning when lighter winds prevail. Expect minimums to get as cold as the lower end of the 20s in the usually
colder pockets of Inland Mid-Atlantic into Western areas of the Carolinas.

Some warm up towards the middle and end of next week, ahead
of the next frontal passage around next Friday. Not much rain
ahead of this next front for late next week.

Turning colder again next weekend, around Jan 7-9, mainly
from NC Northward, with a return freeze threat.

Some beginning signs that there might be a temporary shift
in the upper air pattern to allow colder air masses to drift
a little further South, more frequently, as we get closer to
the latter half of January. Given this is typically the
coldest time of the year, any potential shift towards this
pattern will need to be watched closely.

Temperature Outlook for Monday and Tuesday

Minimum Temperatures for the entire region will drop drastically from Sunday (01/02/2022) to Monday (01/03/2022) (see maps below).

Strawberry Protection – yes or no?

Most growers at this point will have bloom or even fruit on their plants, due to the extremely high temperatures over the past 8 days. However, it is too early in the season to start protecting your blossoms from frost or freeze events.

If you are in a situation in which you have no covers on your plants, please don’t use them yet in the coming days. it is too early! It will take a large commitment of labor and time if you begin to protect you blossoms now. The exception of that rule is in areas in which temperatures fall into the teens. We will watch this situation closely.

If you are in a situation in which you have still covers on your crop, it is most likely that it is too advanced at this point in time. Covers are most likely wet and hard to remove. We recommend to leave covers on until it gets warmer at the end of the coming week and remove them then, if labor is available and time allows it.

Many of you will experience severe damage to the advanced parts of the plants (blossoms, new leaf growth) with the upcoming drop into freezing temperatures! This is expected. At the moment, the current weather predictions do not warrant wide-spread protective measurements to avoid crown damage. However, we watch the situation closely.

Figure 2: Blossoms on the first of January 2022 (Photo courtesy: Clyde Gurosik).


Please watch your weather predictions closely in the next days. We highly recommend to let the blossoms freeze off over the cold period. It is expected to see tissue damage due to freeze on your plants. Currently we don’t advise for wide-spread protection due to low temperatures on Tuesday morning. But we monitor closely and will follow up.

I hope very much that you all have had a merry Christmas and a wonderful and peaceful holiday season. I wish you all a happy New Year.