Monday, April 30, 2007

Strawberry Crop Survives

I recently received an email from Barclay Poling, Extension Specialist with NCSU. He wanted everyone to know that the strawberry crop not only survived the Easter freeze but it is an excellent crop. Please read his announcement for the latest update.

Sprinkler Irrigation and Row Covers Pull Strawberry Crop Through Easter Freeze - Farms are Now Open -- Pull Out Your Shortcake Recipe!

Barclay Poling, Small Fruit Extension Specialist (NCSU)

Monster Freeze.
On the Tuesday before Easter (April 3), I got my first glimpse from a National Weather Sevice advisory of a "monster freeze" headed towards North Carolina
on Easter Weekend. The strawberry crop had been on such a wonderful track in March and early April. Everything was falling into place for a great season, including the potential for our earliest opening ever on Easter weekend. But, as everyone now knows, Easter weekend was dreadfully cold, and the state's fruit growers, including the strawberry producers, were confronted with the prospect of losing everything. The Easter weekend arctic freeze had temperatures in the teens and low 20s, as well as unbelievable winds gusting in excess of 25 mph. The North Carolina apples and peach industries were some of the hardest hit, and hardly a flower bud survived.

The outcome for NC’s strawberry growers was fortunately much better.
We prayed a lot, drank gallons of coffee to stay up for 5 straight nights of frost protection starting on Good Friday, and also used a relatively new technology that involves the use of spunbonded polypropylene row covers which look like a huge white blanket. These lightweight "blankets" literally float on top of the entire crop and help insulate and protect the berry plants from freezing temperatures. Row covers can be used to protect low-growing crops like strawberries and vegetable transplants, but sadly not grapes, fruit trees and blueberries.

Cold protection technologies save NC Strawberry Crop.
The use of these technologies that are specifically designed for low-growing crops helped the state’s strawberry growers preserve almost all of the crop; with the exception of some areas of the mountains where it was brutally cold – some areas got down to 10 F on Easter morning! But the overall outlook for the 2007 strawberry crop in North Carolina
is excellent! Growers across eastern NC, the sandhills and piedmont are NOW open to the public for picking. Don’t miss out on picking some extra yummy NC strawberries this spring, and be sure to pull out your shortcake recipe!

North Carolina Strawberry Information

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