Freezing temperatures have farmers concerned

LINCOLN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) – Work crews at the Knob Creek Farm along highway 18 in Lincoln County were busy Monday picking what strawberries they could, then covering the fields with sheets in anticipation of near freezing temperatures overnight. The strawberries are "in prime picking time' according to farmer Jeff Crotts and he is hoping by covering the crop he can get a few more weeks of harvest.

While the strawberries can be protected, there is no way to cover the apples trees, the peach orchards or the rows and rows of blackberries that are now in full bloom. "That's what farming is all about, taking a chance," said Crotts.

Up the road from his farm Harvey Webb was cutting grass between the rows of his peach trees. The peaches are bigger than he has ever seen at this point in the season, said Webb. "The warm spring has them at least two to three weeks ahead of schedule," he said. Webb is not sure what a heavy frost would do to the peaches "Because I've never had them this big when a frost or freeze came." Webb said there is no way to predict what will happen. It will depend on how cold temperatures get and for how long. If there is cloud cover and a breeze there might not be any frost at all, he said. "We'll know something by the afternoon on Tuesday."

Growers say because of the warm and sometimes record warmth this spring, the crops are looking very good. If no significant damage happens overnight they could be looking at one of the best crops in years, they said. Jeff Crotts, though, doesn't want to celebrate even if Monday night's temperatures don't cause any problems. "We still have time for another frost or freeze." He recalled that in May of 1989, just a few days after a tornado ripped through the area including part of his apple orchard, a freeze destroyed the apple crop in the area. "You just never know what nature will bring you."