Farmers have new pest to battle: Freezing temperatures
Posted March 22, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina farmers are playing defense as spring gets off to a freezing start.
Overnight temperatures dipped into the 20s Thursday, and forecasts call for continued cold weather for the next week to 10 days.
Strawberry farmer Danny Page spent 15 hours late Thursday and early Friday spraying water on his plants to create an icy covering that keeps them from getting colder than 31 degrees.
"It was amazing to me how fast that water was freezing on me, on my coverall and all," Page said. "I had another pair of coveralls on and a raincoat. When I came back in, I looked like an iceman."
"This spell right here is probably the most nervous time I've had doing strawberries," he said. "I've never seen it this cold before on the strawberries."
He said he expects his crop to ripen a week later than normal this year – he said he hopes to have berries ready for Mothers Day – because of the cold weather.
Produce dealers at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh are concerned about other crops.
Ryan Maupin had to load up some of his red pepper seedlings and take them back to Greensboro after the overnight cold damaged them in his truck.
"The cold really hurt them. All the water inside the plants just froze, so they're pretty much just done," Maupin said.