Cold snap could bring problems to local crops

Posted at 12:26 PM, Mar 15, 2017

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The weather roller coaster that has gripped Hampton Roads this winter could have an impact on locally grown crops.

Above average temperatures that flirted with the 80s some days in February coupled with days this week where the temperatures fall below freezing at night could spell trouble for fruit crops like strawberries.

Virginia Beach Extension Agent Roy Flanagan tells News 3 an open bloom on a strawberry plant can only sustain down to 30 degrees.

Tight buds, which haven't opened yet, can range between 22 and 27 degrees depending on how far they've been pushed out of the ground.

Many growers have been using overhead irrigation to keep the berry plants from freezing, but gusty winds Tuesday night made that difficult.

Tom Baker, owner of Brookdale Farm in Virginia Beach, tells News 3 he's been covering his crop to help protect his strawberry plants.

Baker says this cold snap in mid-March is the worst they've dealt with in ten years.

The good news, according to Flanagan, is that strawberries will continue to push blooms after the first yield.

Meaning, there will be strawberries, but it's possible the harvest will not be as great as it could have been.

Flanagan cautions though that you'll never know about any given crop until the season is over.