ENC farmers concerned about recent warm spike

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 7:01 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - While it is only the end of February, plants don’t realize spring hasn’t sprung. That’s why you may have noticed some already in bloom.

“The plants are starting to wake up a little bit earlier than normal and it does kinda set us up to have some damage if it gets cold again and most likely, winter’s not over,” said Carolina Seasons Nursery co-owner, Andrea Pike.

WITNs meteorologist Russell James is predicting we’ll hit a record-high temperature this week, and some farmers fear their plants could be at risk if the cold returns afterward.

“They began to pop the ground and what happens is when we get a cold spell, they freeze and they go back dormant in the ground, and they don’t know to come back up,” said Latha Harrell, A Fling of a Flair owner.

According to the nursery co-owner, you can expect frost until mid-April in North Carolina which could affect crop yields. This wouldn’t be the first time farmers have faced damage in recent years.

“We’ve seen wheat loses in the range of 40,50, and 60 percent of the crop yield lost due to early spring freeze when we’ve had it warm but like we’re seeing right here,” said Ron Hignier, an NC State crop specialist.

But Pike says she isn’t worried right now, but if temperatures drop as low as the 20s from now on, that’s when she’ll have to take extra measures to protect her blooms, like covering them in blankets.