Freezing weather helps crops

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Although this weekend's persistent subfreezing temperatures could boost heating bills and coat windshields with heavy frost, it could also benefit important crops like peaches - and help ensure spring flowers bloom on certain native trees.

"Probably the best thing about temperatures this cold is that it helps the peach trees," said master gardener Bill Adams, of the Georgia Extension Service office in Augusta.

Peaches, he said, require minimum numbers of days with freezing temperatures to ensure timely and proper flowering, which leads to better crop yields, he said.

"Besides peaches, the cold weather's good for any fruit because it keeps them from budding out too early," Mr. Adams said. "So it would be good for wild plums, crabapples and some of the native trees."

On the downside, lots of freezing isn't particularly good for plants like hydrangeas, but carefully covering them can reduce or prevent freeze damage.

"If you do cover them, remember to have the cover over the top, like a canopy, and don't let the cover itself lie on top of the plant," he said.

National Weather Service forecasters predicted this morning's temperatures would dip into the low 20s across much of the Augusta area.

Today's highs are expected to reach 55 degrees, with lows between 27 and 31 degrees tonight and Sunday night. Warmer weather, with highs in the 60s, is expected to return next week.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.


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