By Clint Thompson
Upcoming cold temperatures in the Southeast could impact strawberry plants being planted.
Jeff Cook, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Peach and Taylor counties, highlighted in the University of Georgia Extension Strawberry Blog the importance of plants being watered this week as temperatures could potentially drop near or below freezing in some areas on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Make sure they’re watered and don’t let them dry out when it’s cold,” Cook said. “In the past I’ve seen growers let what they’re planting dry out. Dry soil can get a lot colder than wet soil. Everybody’s either in the middle of planting or getting plants now and trying to get planted. Anybody north of us, especially in north Georgia, they’re going to have temperatures in the high 20s a couple of mornings. You can definitely get some root damage. I’m not worried about tops at all. You can definitely get root damage if that plug plant dries out or if bare root plants aren’t planted correctly. If you’ve got exposed roots, you can get some damage.”
According to weather.com, temperatures in central Georgia around Byron, are forecast for as low as 33 degrees Fahrenheit (F) on Wednesday and 34 F on Thursday. In Alto, Georgia, temperatures could drop to 31 F on Wednesday. Temperatures could also drop to 32 F in Auburn, Alabama on Wednesday.
Cook recommends keeping plug plants watered sufficiently ahead of planting.
“Once a plug dries out, it is extremely hard to get the planting material and roots wet again, especially once in the soil,” Cook noted in the blog. “After planting, I would recommend overhead irrigation if growers have it. If not, then drip irrigation should be used to keep the soil both moist and warmer.
“If growers will keep plants moist prior to and after planting, they should have minimal issues with a few days of freezing temperatures.”