We don't get alot of snow here in South Georgia...maybe once every 5 or 10 years and even then it rarely sticks. Well on January 3, 2018, South Georgia got the biggest snowfall it's had in more than 30 years. Everyone bundled up their kids and played, took pictures, and enjoyed the rare treat! We took a snow day at the store b/c we don't know how to drive in this weather and we wanted to be able to enjoy it with our families before it melted!
Pictured, you see our strawberry field covered in snow! We put row covers over the beds to protect the few blooms that we had and then the snow covered the tops. The funny thing about snow is that b/c the rows were covered, the snow actually insulated the plants, beds, and blooms protecting them from the cold temperatures! With strawberries, the plants can stand super cold temperatures. If you've started to have blooms or berries, you want to protect them from frost, or temps under 32 degrees. With the row covers and snow insulating them we were actually able to pick a few winter strawberries this weekend and they were just as sweet as if they'd been picked in warm weather!
you see the blackberry vines covered in snow. A cold winter is actually what we need to have more fruit in the spring! All of our summer crops need a certain amount of chill hours in the winter. This causes the plant to go into a dormant state that is similar to hibernation...just like we sleep at night to rest our bodies, the trees/plants need to rest in the winter. Warm temperatures in the winter confuse the plant, which can cause early blooms or prevent the plant from getting the rest it needs in a full dormant state. If you visited our farm last year, you know that the warm winter of 2017 caused us to have almost no peach or nectarine crop. Peach trees (and nectarines & plums) lose their leaves and go through a dormant period in the Fall and winter, which gives them a rest. They have to have this rest for the buds that were set the previous summer or else they can’t bloom. Luckily this year, everything should be getting a good "hibernation" period, leading to a fruitful (pun intended) summer!
So what does this all mean for all of our crops here on the farm? Well, cotton, peanuts, and corn aren't planted yet so they are definitely safe :). Our strawberries should still come in on time in March. If it ends up being a normal winter with warm days and cold days, we will drag the row covers over the beds to protect from frost or freezing temps. On the other hand if freezing temps are predicted for weeks at a time, it isn't feasible to do that b/c the row covers prevent the bees from pollinating the blooms. Luckily in South Georgia, one day it's 30 degrees and the next day it's 68 degrees! The more chill hours the better for all of the rest of our fruit and we are hopeful that it makes us have a good crop of blackberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, and nectarines! See you in a few months!