Local News

Strawberry Farmers Fear Freeze

Posted April 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Forecasters were on target with warnings for farmers, as the temperature dipped below freezing in many part of the Triangle area.

Lows reached early Thursday morning ranged from 25 degrees in Clarksville, Va., and Durham, t0 33 in Fayetteville. At WRAL, the low temperature -- 31 degrees -- was recorded at 7 a.m.

With prime strawberry picking season set to begin in about a week, some area farmers, such as Mitchell Wrenn, said they feared the cold temperatures would damage crops. Last year a hard freeze in early March destroyed two thirds of their strawberry crop. Wednesday night they watched another late frost come in. But, if the winds aren't too brisk and the temperatures don't get too low, Wrenn thinks an irrigation pipeline will save their crop.

Fletcher Wrenn says moistening the strawberry blooms before a freeze ensures that they will be protected with a layer of ice. The ice serves as a warm blanket of convection heat, keeping the bloom above freezing, and preventing it from dying overnight. As the water freezes, it actually releases heat.

When daylight comes, Mitchell Wrenn's fears are usually calmed by the beauty of the sun's gentle sparkle against the frozen fields.