ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Charlotte-area farmers are preparing for the drop in temperatures. A freeze warning is in effect in counties across the state, including Rowan County where Patterson Farm Market & Tours is keeping a close watch on its produce.
“In farming, we can’t predict the weather," Doug Patterson, vice president of Patterson Farm Inc., said. "We have a lot of variables and that is one we can’t control so we do what we can to prepare our fields and workers for any weather conditions."
At the farm, 550 acres of fruits and vegetables are grown. The family business has been passed down four generations since 1919.
Patterson said with the freeze warning, he is keeping an eye on their most vulnerable produce.
“Our strawberries did bloom early because of the earlier warm temperatures we had but we have been growing strawberries since the '70s," he said. "I can hardly remember a year that we didn’t have to frost protect or have cold weather as they are blooming."
This fabric covering acts as a blanket to trap the heat and help protect the strawberries.
“Make sure it touches the ground because it is taking the heat coming from the ground to keep it warm underneath that blanket,” Patterson explained.
Some crops are harder to shelter from the harsh cold weather.
“Peaches will be in trouble -- peaches that are in full bloom right now… it’s hard to protect them,” Patterson said. “Some people do it with a helicopter, with wind movement, with wind barrels trying to create heat around the barrels but peaches are a lot harder to protect.”
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Once the temperature stays above 32 degrees for 10 consecutive days Patterson said they’ll remove the covering to let the strawberries breathe. If the temperatures drop again, the strawberries will go back into hiding.
He expects to lose at most 10% of his crops.
“We will have gobs of strawberries and even with this cold snap, I think we are looking at a very good strawberry season,” he said. “And you’re coming back in May when we have an abundance of strawberries.”
Strawberry season kicks off at the end of April.
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