What’s Growing On: How farmers protect crops during a hard freeze
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WILLISTON, Fla. (WCJB) - When sub-freezing temperatures are in the forecast protecting house plants versus crops on a field are two very different processes.
According to one North Central Florida farmer, it’s a very delicate process as each crop has different needs during a hard freeze.
Thomas Addison, the Farm Manager at Red White and Blues farm, explains how ice is the ultimate protection against sub-freezing temperatures.
“The ice releases heat, that’s called an exothermic reaction. So as long as you are making ice and continuing to put water on the plant, as long as you’re making the ice, it stays right there at 32 degrees. 32 doesn’t sound very warm to us but it’s warm to a plant,” explained Addison.
Related Story: What’s Growing On: Protecting plants from a freeze
The farm grows blueberries, strawberries, sunflowers, and peaches — all of which have different needs during a hard freeze.
Over-watering strawberry crops can result in fungal growth or root rot.
On the other hand, blueberries and sunflowers are less delicate when it comes to the amount of water they can take on, but branches can snap due to the weight of the ice.
During last weekend’s hard freeze, Addison said they lost about 25% of their sunflowers but less than 1% of their blueberries.
“The only way to protect the crop is to cover it in ice, so you have to deal with the ramifications at the end of the freeze as far as going back in, staking plants up, getting them stood back up and trying to get them to the point where they’re okay,” said Addison.
Another hard freeze is not currently in the forecast, but there’s always a chance for a cold snap this time of year.
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