Weather

Sub-freezing weekend temps threaten Triangle crops

Posted March 3

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— Freezing overnight temperatures are threatening crops around the Triangle as farmers scramble to keep their products alive during an early budding.

The normal low temperature range for the early days of March is 37 to 38 degrees. But Saturday morning's low will be 28 degrees, and Sunday's will drop to 21.

"Tomorrow morning we're going to be especially concerned at 28 degrees," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. "A lot of the crops could be in danger. Same thing on Sunday morning."

Temperatures warm again in the early part of next week, when the low is forecast to be 40 degrees on Monday and 50 on Tuesday.

The sub-freezing temperatures are sending farmers into overdrive to protect their plants. For Porter Farms and Nursery in Raleigh, the strawberry crop is at stake.

"The temperature is about on time for the year, but the crop is three weeks early," said Ashley Porter, who works at the farm.

The early crop means Porter and his crew have to work longer hours to protect the plants, especially over the next two nights when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. Porter said farm will continually water the budding berries to wash off the frost and cover them when necessary.

"The crop looks great right now," Porter said. "I'll probably be picking in two weeks, but the price should be about the same. Just a lot more work."

The local branch of the National Weather Service that covers the central and eastern part of North Carolina has not issued frost or freeze warnings for their counties, even though counties around Charlotte and in South Carolina are blanketed in warnings. Gardner said issuing the warnings is up to the NWS' discretion, and they usually don't issue them until the middle of March.

Frost/freeze warnings, March 3, 2017

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