Farmers prepare for frost/freeze overnight


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mother’s Day Weekend is usually the peak of the strawberry season for berry farmers. But right now they are preparing for a possible frost and freeze overnight into Saturday morning. Scattered frost may also occur on Sunday morning, as well.

At Batey Farms in Murfreesboro, they began covering their strawberry fields on Thursday before the rain arrived.

Workers at Batey Farms in Murfreesboro covering strawberries on Thursday

Brandon Whitt, owner, and operator at Batey Farms explained, “Boy, talk about bad timing. For a strawberry farm, this is typically our biggest weekend of the year. And it typically coincides with the best production of the year, also. We haven’t quite hit peak season yet on strawberries, but we quickly are approaching that. So this cold weather spell is definitely going to set us back as far as how quickly we ripen those berries up from here.

“We’ve got the entire patch covered with our strawberry blankets”, Whitt continued, “keeping those berries and those new blooms that are about to bust out, keeping those warm, and hopefully going to be able to ward off those cold temperatures that are coming tonight.”

So just how cold can the temperature get for these covers to still protect the berries?

“So with the covers, we feel pretty confident that we can handle down to around 28°-29°. With the forecast, that you know, we’re going to be flirting very closely with those temperatures. Hopefully, the covers will hold up. Two things they will do is to protect them from the cold weather and protect them from the hard frost that is going to come. The frost would definitely take care of any very young berries or blooms that are blossoming out right now”.

That’s because frost can form even when the temperature is several degrees above freezing.

“And so that will definitely protect from the frost settling on the plants”, Whitt explained. “And the blankets will actually keep that ground temperature that is warmer underneath, and keep that plant warmer than the actual air temperature above it”.

Because of COVID-19, Batey Farms suspended their “pick your own” activity this year, but they are taking orders online and via phone for pick-up. For more information, see Batey Farms’ website.

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