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It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Posted by Pitcom 7a (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 28, 12 at 15:10

With all the warm weather I had a great jump on lots of plants this year. That was until last night. We had a forecasted low of 39 last night, so i covered up all of my plants. I have several thousand strawberries right now along with lots of honey berries, blueberries and figs. I covered mostly everything with a layer of burlap and greenhouse plastic. I made sure to cover my beans and cowpeas extra well.

Then the big surprise....we woke up this morning to a temperature of 31 degrees. We lost about half of the strawberries, and all of the honey berries. It appears that all of the fig trees experienced tip death where all the first leaves came out. All of the tomato, pepper, squash and eggplants that were set out have died. Those I really don't mind, because I have plenty of back up plants that were still indoors. But one of the most disheartening loses last night was our potatoes. Every single potato plant, over 225, died. We were growing TPS this year, and the first 4 varieties grew so well, i picked up an additional 4 for this year. Now, we will have none of these great potatoes from Tom Wagner and It's just too late to plant anymore TPS this year. Even if we wanted to, many of the varieties are sold out for the year.

There is no telling how the blueberries took the freeze, but I am hoping they will be ok, as many informational sites say not to worry until it drops below 29 for blueberries. All of the beans, peas, lettuce, carrots ect. made it through the night just fine. Sometimes nature throws you a curve ball that you just cannot hit.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

I'm very surprised. Honey berries shoots (Lonicera) are tolerant to hard freezes down to zero degrees F. Were they not hardened off sufficiently (i.e. did you plant them this spring?).


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

You don't need to worry about Blueberries experiencing cool temps. I don't cover mine ever, and we got to 13F this winter. It's too bad about your potatoes and vegetables though.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Hey Slimy, most my honeyberry bushes are what I would consider fully grown. A couple are two years old. They had fruit on them last night. The fruit was not ripe, as they were still green with purple blemishes here and there. All of the actual berries turned a mushy brown overnight. The bushes themselves are just fine.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Oh man, I always forget how much more advanced you zone 7-ers can be! We don't get to pick honeyberries until mid or late June.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

I'm very surprised that potatoes would die at 31 degrees.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

My volunteer potatoes have been frozen twice already...they come right back. I had 30 degrees yesterday morning and I agree it is hard on the strawberry blooms, but will not hurt blueberries that have set on.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Yes, I agree, don't give up so soon. I think a lot of things may come back from the lower stems. Potatoes definitely will, and tomatoes often do.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

I don't think the potatoes will be coming back. Let me elaborate a bit. I am growing Mountain Rose and German Butterballs this year as well. Those potato plants were grown from seed potatoes (tubers). Those plants are 100% perfectly fine. The potato plants that have died are the ones that were started from True Potato Seed. These were sprouted just like tomato seeds and grown very carefully indoors since february. I set them out a little over 2 weeks ago and they had really begun to start growing nice sized leaves.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Pitcom, where did you get the potato seeds? I'd like to try some out next year.
Do you find the flavor of the Butterballs to be as good as advertised?


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RE2: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Never mind my first question, I just read your original post again!


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Potatoes

Hey Slimy, I got them from Tom Wagner over at New World Crops. The German Butterballs are delicious. Super creamy texture and they were a gorgeous yellow. They were a real favorite last year. We enjoyed pulling them when they were still young.

Photobucket


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

You think it's because they were very young that they were killed? I'm still surprised. 31 is barely a freeze, and potatoes originated in places where it can get cold.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

If misery loves company, you've got plenty! This latest round of frosts hit the only thing in my spring garden that hadn't previously been blasted back to the roots (the potatoes). Thank goodness I had just hilled them, the centers lived. And I have kept them alive by ignoring the forecasts in favor of what my body tells me about the temps once the sun goes down. I fear for my neighbor and his 200 squash plants put out last weekend. And while the peas and cabbage have come round from their scouring a month ago, I highly doubt I will see a harvest before the heat hits in the end of May... Unless of course it doesn't get warm then...

What state are yu in? I have wondered about honey berries before, but wasn't sure whether our area might be too warm for them.


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RE: honey berries

Tilton, I don't know honestly, this was my first year with TPS.

Sunnibel, I am located in Se Pa, about 22 miles west of Philly. The honeyberries grow great here and taste quite good. However, I had some pollination problems this year due to that early heat wave. They flowered very early and there were no pollinating insects to be seen on my property. I had to q-tip them which wasn't too troublesome. I have a feeling that this may be a tricky crop in our region due to the early heat waves we can have. I need a few more years with them though to get a better feeling for them. They grow great though. I bought them at as 1 foot tall plants and now some stand over 5 feet.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

  • Posted by t-bird Chicago 5/6 (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 29, 12 at 14:19

hope things improve in your harvest outlook pitcom!

Our weather has been crazy variable too - but not as bad as yours.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Was out working on everything this weekend and it looks like most of the lettuce took a big hit as well. I have some red iceberg lettuce that is forming the heads but now all the leaves are streaked with black patches of dead tissue. We have about 12 varieties of lettuce this year and about 60 heads that are all full grown right now. They all took a pretty bad hit, they are all filled with black patches. I hope they recover. This was our first year with the red iceberg and i was really looking forward to harvesting some large heads.

There is now a frost advisory for tonight with a projected low of 38, however its very clear so i expect some radiational cooling. Then, we have projected highs in the mid- 80s for this week. You have got to love mid-atlantic weather.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

All that damage suggests it got a lot lower than 31 at your place.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

I agree..unless the frost was very thick. I had a lot of damage to strawberries at 29F with a heavy frost, but they have bounced back.

Stockpile blankets, sheets, etc and use them if you think there is any chance of a frost/freeze. Its just not worth losing so much because of one freeze.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

I'm thinking the same thing about the temperature, it must have been much lower than 31 degrees. Last 3 nights we've had freeze warnings. Last night hit 30 and my potatoes grew over night. They are just spouting and in a raised bed but 30 degrees is 30 degrees and they did fine.

In my experience you've got to drop at least a few more degrees lower to get a plant to die. In my location in late Sept/ early oct we get a few light freezes but plants survive. Then it drops to like 27 or lower and everything is black and dead.

Sorry about your loss. It's not a good feeling when mother nature does her worst.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Lettuce is pretty cold-hardy. Mine has been out since mid-March, shrugging off every frost we've had. If lettuce is getting frostburned, says to me it's in the low 20s. And that might account for killed potato seedlings, too.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

What we've been experiencing suggests that cold weather crops exposed to periods of heat lose their ability to withstand sudden exposure to cold, which may be what has happened to the lettuce. There are various resources that make note of this. I've been trying to read more about the phenomenon, but no one seems to know the exact mechanism, just that it happens. But not that frequently, because usually heating and cooling happen more gradually and don't tend to swing back and forth so extremely.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

The lettuce was covered in a very heavy frost indeed. I could have made a snow cone with all of it. This lettuce has been out since march and had been trough several frosts with no problem before this happened.

Very interesting topic Sunnibel, have any links? I would enjoy reading up on that.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Pitcom I am on the border of penn-de not far from you. My potatoes, strawberries and lettuce are all fine. Its amazing what difference a few miles can make! Another critical factor could be the wind. If you live in a windy spot it could explain your losses. I would stick with holding off untill mothers day. Otherwise you might consider using low tunnels you could then safely plant earlier by a few weeks.

My warm weather stuff is snug in the greenhouse no point in rushing. Those butterball potatoes look great!


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Pitcom, I could only find one online resource that mentioned this, and it really gives no explanation. I will include the link anyway. The only other sources I have are word of mouth from farmers, in my area and the area my parents live in as well as up in Maine. Explanations have included thinning of the cell walls, loss of the antifreezing properties of their tissues due to heat exposure, or just general tenderness of the rapidly formed new growth.

Again, this seems to be something that doesn't normally happen, so I guess it hasn't really been studied. At the risk of being obvious,something is happening this year that seems to be so far outside the norm that the various weather predictors are off, sometimes by by a considerable amount (my personal record here was 18 degrees off from predicted to recorded). It's like Mother Nature is saying "put this in your simulations and model it!" Normally, and I mean for many years, I have found my local weather to be consistently accurate within 5 degrees...

Anyway, we seem to be heading into a stretch of weather that looks normal, so maybe it is all settling down? Sorry for your losses, it is really frustrating. Here's the link, the mention is right in the first paragraph.

Here is a link that might be useful: Freeze after heat


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Ravinpenn, yes we are not too far indeed. All of my veggies were grown during the winter in my greenhouse and hoop houses. I took down my houses a couple of weeks ago because it was getting too hot for the lettuce and i did not want it to bolt. The good thing is i just harvested my first full grown carrots today which were delicious, and i have an enormous bounty of peas filling the pods right now. My buddy lives in Ridley township and he did not suffer any damage albeit to a few of his cucumber plants.

Thanks for the link Sunnibel. All is not lost, I have tons of wonderful things like beets, carrots, spinach, peas, cabbages and kholrabi which are just reaching harvest stage and did not suffer.

Photobucket

Here is some damage to the lettuce.

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Don't mind the few stray lambsquarters, they grow like weeds but are good eating.

Photobucket


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

Wow your low tunnels look great. My lettuce is still growing under a tunnel and we are enjoying salads every night. Pushing the envelope is always risky I wonder if getting that early girl tomato a week early is worth the hassle? Of course the answer is yes! One bite of a BLT and I am launched into summer. god I can't wait.


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RE: It was a bad night for the back yard farm.

I really hesitated to put out my cool-weather seedlings during the March heat wave, but I'm glad now I did. They sailed through the frosts, and now I have huge healthy brassicas a month early. Envelope-pushing seeds worked out well, too, this year. Peas just starting to flower, lots of gorgeous radishes picked, lettuces almost the size of Pitcom's.

Of course I could have lost them all, but I only would have really regrettng the seedlings. I did hold a few back, for insurance.

It compensates for the freeze-damaged fruit.


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