Freezing temperatures could impact local crop growth

WYMT Weekend Edition News at 11 p.m.
Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - After a few days of spring-like temperatures, the National Weather Service issued a Freeze Warning for some counties in our region.

The up and down changes in temperatures can be hard on plant growth, especially if it gets below freezing.

“When that happens, we saw those warm temperatures, and then we see the cold fronts come through. We see those temperatures come down and we lose the fruit basically,” said Chad Conway, the Knott County Extension Agent for Agriculture & Natural Resources Education.

Some plants have already started the growing process.

Once they enter the blooming stage, freezing temperatures can halt growth for good.

“Either we see some loss of fruiting, we can have the development completely lost, or we can actually see some of the plants scarring from the freezing too. The fruit scarring from it as well,” Chad Conway said.

While crops on trees can be hard to protect, there are ways to keep ground crops from feeling the freeze.

“Once we get down into those teens, it’s really hard to do anything besides possibly using some ropes covers, some cloths. Those types of things, and it has to be in touch with the ground,” Conway added.

Experts said long-term effects are unlikely unless temperatures fall below zero.

“We don’t really see any long-term effects on the plant, unless we see those temperatures get really cold. Like we did back in December and January, those minus 30-degree temperatures,” the Knott County Extension Agent said.

Conway also said people should wait until May to start growing summer crops.