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Farmers fight overnight frost to protect crops

Published On: Mar 26 2014 10:40:03 PM CDT
KINSTON, LENOIR COUNTY -

The spring season has arrived, but the winter conditions don't want to go away. These weather conditions are impacting farmers and their ability to grow crops.

Right now it is the growing season for strawberries. Strawberries can endure colder temperatures for growing, but only to a certain level.

To better explain the strawberry growing process, we paired up with a popular vendor in the Eastern Carolina area.

Steve Putnam owns Putnam Family Farms near Kinston. He sells his crops wholesale, but primarily invests in selling his goods local. Putnam has felt the stress these past few months in producing his strawberries for the summer season.

"It's been tough, it's been very cool and very damp as everyone knows," Putnam said. "We have to try and save it [the crop] at least, if you don't do anything it's going to kill them, so you have to get out there and do everything that you can do."

Overnight temperatures dropped to the low to mid 20's. Putnam says the desired temperature to grow strawberries cannot drop below 32 degrees. When there is a chance that the temperature could drop below that desired growing temperature, farmers take extra precautions.

One technique Putnam suggests is to cover strawberry crops with a cloth. The cloth he uses helps to insulate the heat and fight off the frost. Other farmers use techniques like spraying and freezing water on their plants, to keep them at a specific temperature.

Putnam says he is behind in his strawberry production because of the consistent cold and wet weather Eastern Carolina has experienced. The prolonged cold weather has set Putnam back three weeks in the production of strawberries.

"If we were to get a break in temperatures, and get a few sunny days, hopefully we can catch back up and have our summer crops done in time,' Putnam said.

The overall impact of prolonged cold weather in Eastern Carolina on crops could mean higher prices by vendors across the board, said Putnam. Farmers are hoping they get a break in the weather and that they have seen the last of the frost.