Farmers worry about crops after winter blast

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s been downright cold and while it hasn’t been the worst winter on record, local farmers said they haven’t seen temperatures drop this low since the 1970s or 1980s.

But what does it mean when the mercury drops to the sub-freezing point for days on end? It could mean bad news for some fruit growers.

“All the fruit you enjoy throughout the season, whether it’s grapes or peaches or berries, those types of farmers are stressing about plants and whether we’ll have balloons or a crop this year,” said Eric Barrett, Ohio State Extension educator.

David Hull with White House Fruit Farm in Canfield said they expect damage to their peaches. And the winter is far from over. Hull said they just hope it stays consistent, because when the weather fluctuates too much other crops could be affected.

“You never want it to go yo yo,” said Hull. “You don’t want to see 60 degree days followed by 10 degree nights. So, as long as it stays steady and it doesn’t warm up too soon.”

In Youngstown, the Iron Roots Urban Farm uses hoop houses to grow vegetables during the winter months. Program Coordinator Danielle Seidita said the low tunnels, which are small wire hoops bent over the rows, help keep the soil warm. But the subfreezing temperatures are creeping into those defenses.

“Our plants seem to be holding up pretty well,” said Seidita. “Their bottom leaves are getting a little too frost bit, and they definitely don’t look happy. Really, it’s a waiting game at this point.”

Once it warms up to above freezing, the coverings could come off. But until then, they will continue to need the protection.

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