Region 8 Spring Freeze

April 5, 2007 - Posted at 6:37 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO-The arrival of a spring cold snap has wheat farmers on edge.

"A few minutes probably won't hurt, but if it gets down to 28 or 30 degrees for about two hours we are going to have some damage," said Steve Culp of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Wheat is extremely sensitive to cold weather, especially after it starts to head.

"With wheat being this far along it's not going to be salvageable.  The main hope is that we don't get complete struly and that we do get partial seed set in the heads," said June Hancock, a seeder with AgriPro Coker.

With wheat being 8 to 14 days earlier that what it normally is this time of year, it's not easy to protect either.

Seeders say one thing farmers can do is plant different varieties of seed, that way the wheat will grow at different maturity levels.

Meanwhile, wheat isn't the biggest crop in Arkansas, but for those who produce it, even a small loss is a lot.

"For individual farmers it is important and does contribute to cash flow," said Culp.

That cash flow all relies on the weather, and a lot of luck.

"Hopefully it will turn out good.  Maybe the weather men will be wrong," said Hancock as she laughed.

The K8 Storm Team is predicting lows of 28-32 over the next couple of nights.


For those who jumped in early and planted flowerbeds and gardens, the cold weather could be bad news also.

We're told plants at highest risk are those suculent ones that absorb the most moisture.

Gardeners say it's not necessarily the cold that's the culprit, but the moisture associated with frost and dew.

They say the best thing you can do is dress your plants accordingly.

"Any people who have already planted some tender annual type stuff this year, that's going to need to be protected.  ONe of teh best things you can do for that right now is just cover it a little bit with something.  If it's something that has been planted in a pot, maybe it can be moved inside of a garage or something to protect it from these cool temperatures," said Larry Vickers of Southlawn Nursery.

They say the best materials to cover your plants with are light fabrics or newspaper.

We're told not to use plastic because it will hold in excess heat which can actually be just as harmful as the cold weather.

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