Farmers can be sensitive creatures, looking upon their crops with parental pride “My goodness, they’re so tall and healthy, how beautiful they look”!! This past winter has been on the most part one of the warmest on record, confusing us, but more importantly, confusing to the plants. We celebrated in the warmth, our crops did too, joyously sprouting and growing just little too early for their own good.
Then came the “Big Freeze” a mere week ago(Mar.13-17)-lows in the 20’s, on our farm 18 degrees if not lower…and ohh, that wind from the north! The news painted grim prospects by some local NC farmers. “Yeah, at 25 degrees our strawberry crop is a gonner”. Many farmers were worried about their tender strawberry crops. From footage seen, there were no row covers on those fields. I had to wonder why they didn’t employ such a simple protective measure…maybe it was provided, but wasn’t at the time being shown…??
Though row covers are not a cure all in the cold or extreme heat, it certainly can help…alot. Providing a “mere” 4-6 degrees can mean the difference between having a crop or it turning to compost. This applies to summer crops as well. Row cover can keep pests&birds at bay- ever on the search for tender new seedlings, and can help plants from overheating. It is a(rather inexpensive),lightweight, semi-transparent polyfabric that may be well worth your time and money.
All that being said, the proof was when the row cover was lifted off our Chandler strawberries: Perfectly healthy, beautiful strawberry plants with blooms indicating the fruit to come(as indicated by the photo). No doubt our CSA strawberry needs shall be met after all. Here’s to all the strawberry farmers who will find their crop children healthy and safe with just a little protection! – Kirsten W.