Early Season Weather Advisory: Cold Temperatures Ahead
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Do I have to cover my fresh planted strawberries?
In collaboration with AWIS Weather Services
We are facing quite an unusual situation, in which an early season cold spell will affect most of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. This might be worrisome as plants did not have time to adjust to suddenly dropping temperatures.
While it is unlikely that you will see damage when you temperatures stay in the 30s, growers in the Mid-Atlantic and Western NC, VA should cover their strawberry plants to avoid ‘shocking’ freshly planted plants. The temperatures in those regions can drop well below 30s, coming from the 70s-80s.
General Weather Discussion
*** Much Colder Through Mid Week
*** Freeze and/or Frost Risk Many Areas
*** Mostly Dry Through The Weekend
An unusually cold air mass for mid-October will continue
to spread East and Southeast across the Mid-Atlantic and
Interior Southeast states early this week.
High pressure moving S/SE into the Ohio and Tennessee Valley
regions will bring a widespread freeze to many areas of
the Mid-Atlantic, through Much of the Carolinas and perhaps
even into the coldest pockets of Southern Alabama and Georgia.
Temperatures at the 5 foot level may get as cold as the middle
and or even low to middle 20s colder Appalachian foothills, but
will be mostly in the upper 20s to lower 30s.
On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, areas where winds drop off
more, and soils are dry, then temperatures near ground level
are likely to be a few degrees colder.
Frost chances will dip as far South as Coastal Alabama and
extreme Northern Florida into South Georgia.
These temperatures are about 2 weeks ahead of schedule for
what is normally the first fall freeze/frost event for many areas.
Keeping soil moisture levels up is a good method to retain
daytime heat, and help lessen the cooling effects during the
early morning hours.
Temperatures will moderate quickly late this week into
early next week, and will get back to near and above normal
levels in most areas.
The next chance for showers will come towards the middle
half of next week, mainly Northern and Western areas.
A brief cool down is possible behind this for late next
week, but not as cold as the middle half of this week.
The trending weather for most of the last half of October,
is for above normal temperatures, with rainfall mostly
near normal, but perhaps above normal Northern and Western
areas, and below normal Southern areas.
Figure 1: Predicted minimum Temperatures of the region from Tuesday (10/17) to Friday (10/21). Temperatures drop into the upper 20s in Western NC and the Mid-Atlantic. Temperatures at plant level are most likely lower!
What to do? Eastern NC, GA and SC
First, look at your specific local forecast. In most areas in Eastern NC, GA and SC, the rapid temperature change is more dangerous than the potential minimum temperature. This change might have the potential to shock your plants!
Consider when your planting date was, the temperatures between the time you planted and what is predicted. Freshly planted plug plants have tender tissue and are more susceptible to those temperature changes than e.g. bare-roots or cut-offs.
As a general rule, if minimum temperatures are predicted to be in the low 30s, upper 20s: you might want to use row-covers to prevent a potential shock on plug-plants.
One thing to consider is: Row covers that move at higher windspeeds can also cause damage to plug plants. We generally think that temperatures in the mid 30s will be okay and you shouldn’t see any damage due to the cold.
Make sure to use spray for Botrytis-Grey-Mold and mites if you can before covering up.
What to do? Western NC, Piedmont, Western VA, Mid-Atlantic
Again, it is crucial to monitor your local weather forecast!!! In most areas, predicted air temperatures are in the 20s. It his is the case, It is recommended to cover your plants with row covers, regardless of plant type and planting date.
Make sure to use spray for Botrytis-Grey-Mold and mites before covering up.