CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (News10)-If you left any plants or flowers out or uncovered overnight, you may have woken up to find withered or beyond resuscitating. News10’s Anya Tucker visited area farms to learn how farmers prepared in advance of the freezing temperatures.
At Hand Melon Farm in Greenwich, New York they woke up to strawberry plants encased in a sheen of ice. But 3rd generation farmer John Hand says the ice was by design as they used their irrigation system, spraying the plants, creating a frozen man-made protective barrier. “It’s counterintuitive, people are often surprised. But it’s all about when water goes from liquid to ice,” said Hand. “It takes a lot more energy to get it through into the solid form and so it will stay right at 32, as long as you keep sprinkling water on it.” And after the cold front moves on, the ice melts and the plants survive any frost damage.
“Small farms are really good at pivoting,” said Sarah Wallen, the Field and Flower Lead at Forts Ferry Farm in Latham. They sell to area restaurants and at local farmers markets. Their crew spent the morning removing coverings from plants that they were protecting from frost. “Our only damage was on the stuff that we weren’t able to cover. Some herbs like lemon balm got a little kiss of frost.” But Wallen told News10’s Anya Tucker that the plants should bounce back. “It’ll be ok.” She says now that they are over this hump, the plants should be fine for the rest of the season.
John Hand says he learned the tricks of the farming trade (like using irrigation and ice to protect plants) the hard way. He shared a story going back to when he took over the family farm as a young man in his late 20’s. “I didn’t see a cold front coming, like we had last night, and I did not have irrigation set up in the strawberry field. There was nothing I could do about it and I froze the strawberries, so they virtually all died.” Being a resilient farmer, he bounced back and so did the farm. He says he’s looking forward to greeting customers and families this coming season at his pick your own farm.