Jeff tracks the weather relentlessly during spring when Mother Nature is very fickle. Here he is repairing the overhead irrigation system. Along with row covers, these 2 systems can provide much needed warmth and protection if we have frosts or freezes in March and April when the blossoms are abundant.
Yesterday was a prime example. We'd had warm days, then rain, and a prediction of frost this morning. We couldn't pull the row covers back on (wet covers dragged over delicate plants = damage), so Jeff started checking for frost at 4 a.m., and subsequently about every half hour. Thank goodness, temperatures weren't as low as predicted, but needless to say, he will be going to bed early tonight! This diligence can save a crop. In April of 2007 we had a freeze Easter morning. The only thing that saved our berries were our row covers, and overhead sprinkling starting about 10 p.m. with us monitoring it until about 8 a.m. Yes, we were cold, wet, and exhausted, but we had berries in May.
We heard from one grower in South Carolina yesterday where it was 86 during the day and freeze predicted that night. They put their row covers on shirtless because it was so hot :) Strawberry growers do not gamble - the stakes are too high!