ELLERBE — Jack Frost has not yet decided on his vacation destination; however, he’s scheduled to make a stop in Richmond County Tuesday morning and local farmers are a bit nervous.
Tonight is expected to be the most extensive frost of the spring and Lee Berry of the Berry Patch in Ellerbe said that he’s prepared.
“On Sunday,” said Berry, “we covered all the berries up with row covers called Reemay. It’s is a blanket that allows the flowers to breathe. It lets in around 70% of daylight but also gets me coverage down to 24 degrees.”
Tonight’s frost is expected around 2 a.m. which is considered a long freeze event.
The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning from 1-10 a.m. for most of North Carolina and the Southeast. Local overnight lows are expected to dip to around 28 degrees.
Berry said that he’ll experience a loss between five to eight percent of his current crop.
“The loss is fine,” said Berry, “because it typically gets the flowers and not the fruit. The fruit that is already set can withstand the cool temperatures.”
Berry has already harvested one crop of strawberries but is optimistic about the low temperatures.
Danny and Chris Bynum from Bynum’s Peaches are concerned but not overly nervous.
“We’ve been fortunate so far,” said Chris Bynum. “We’ll know the effects of the freeze around Thursday or Friday, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
Danny Bynum is hoping for some wind.
“We’re just going to hope that there is a little breeze blowing tonight,” said Danny Bynum, “If you’ve got a breeze, it’s not as bad as if it’s still.”
In a cold year, Danny Bynum generally expects around 20 to 30% loss, but in a mild year there are other weather considerations.
“We have people who we’ve hired to thin out the fruit which is considered in figuring the loss,” said Danny Bynum, “but there are other weather things that happen like hail.”
Temperatures are due to rise to seasonal levels beginning Wednesday with highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s.