AWIS Winter Weather Advisory: Rain, Followed by Freezing Temperatures
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Rain next week, and freeze around christmas
in collaboration with AWIS Weather Services
Most of central and western NC as well as most of the mid-Atlantic will experience minimum temperatures in the teens or even single digits (higher elevations) at the end of the coming week, right around Christmas Eve (Figure 1). Rainfall is expected in most of the area, beginning on Tuesday (12/20) all the way to Thursday (12/23).
Figure 1: Predicted minimum temperatures for the region for 12/23, 12/24 and 12/25 2022.
First, it is important to understand why you want to protect your plants at this time of the year. The most valuable part that you want to protect is the crown: freezing temperatures can cause non reversible damage to a strawberry crown. This will lead to low yields or even dead plants in the worst case scenario.
Fully dormant strawberry plants usually don’t show crown damage until temperatures at crown level reach drop below the teens. Generally, if you are in an area in which the predicted min. temperature doesn’t fall below 20F, AND your plants are hardened off and dormant, there will be no need to cover the plants.
There is not a ‘one fits all’ approach.
However, I can’t stress enough that this is not true for plants that did not had enough hardening time and are still active. This might be the case in some areas in Eastern SC, Southern GA and Coastal NC. If that is the case, we recommend to protect those plants, even if the min temperatures are predicted to be in the low 20s.
In many areas in Central and Western NC, Western GA, North Western SC, most of VA and the mid-Atlantic, min temperatures are predicted to be in the teens or even single digits. There are reports of fully dormant ‘Chandler’ that did withstand low teens without damage. However, with freezing temperatures approaching early in the season, at this point of time we highly recommend to use floating row covers to protect your crop from those temperatures.
The situation becomes more difficult because rain is predicted from 12/20 to 12/23 for most of the region, and temperatures are predicted to drop fast after the rain. That does not leave a lot of time to deploy row-covers between rain and the predicted low temperatures. In most cases, it would be advisable to protect your crop with row-covers before the rain: coming Sunday (12/18), Monday (12/19) or Tuesday (12/20).
Be prepared that even with row cover protection, especially your canopy can still suffer cold damage, depending on the condition of the cover and the experienced minimum temperatures.
We will be monitoring the situation closely and will follow up with updated before Christmas.
As always, I hope this helps,