Plunging temperatures put crops at risk
Posted April 14
Updated April 16
Raleigh, N.C. — Temperatures plummeted into the 30s early Wednesday across central North Carolina, about 15 to 20 degrees below normal and cold enough to concern local farmers.
A freeze warning is in effect for much of the area, an indication that readings may be at or below the freezing mark between 3 and 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The quick dip in temperatures behind Tuesday's quick-moving cold front has the owners of Page Farms worried about their strawberry crop.
"This is a critical stage in the process," said Danny Page. His plants are covered in white blooms, which will develop into berries in the coming weeks.
As the temperatures dipped overnight, Page and his staff will begin pumping additional water onto the plants. A coating of ice keeps them from exposure to too much cold air, an even more damaging effect.
"As long as you keep throwing water, and it'll keep building ice, it'll stay at 32 degrees," Page said. "If I didn't throw no water at all, I'd probably lose 75 percent of this crop."
Jeff Allen of Beth Moore's Produce in Johnston County rolled out rows of cloth to cover his squash in the ground.
"As young as they are, and no higher than they are, it'll kill them as dead a doornail," he said.
Temperatures will remain near freezing Wednesday morning before warming into the upper 50s under clear skies during the afternoon.
"Wednesday is going to be sunny throughout, but much colder," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said.
A freeze warning is also in effect for early Thursday, as temperatures are expected to once again fall into the 30s.
Daytime highs will return to the 60s to close the work week, and Saturday and Sunday will be in the 70s under partly cloudy skies.