Cold delays Louisiana strawberries

01/15/2014 10:30:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

A recent cold snap has cast a temporary chill over strawberry harvest in Louisiana.

Before the freezing temperatures during the weekend of Jan. 4, growers were harvesting from plug plants planted in September and were ready to start picking from bare-root plants planted in mid-October, according to a news release.

All of the blooms and green fruit on the bare-root plants were lost to the freeze. Strawberry plants are hardy and can survive pretty cold temperatures, but weather in the 30s can slow growth.

The cold also reinvigorates the plants, and growers should have plenty of berries in late March and April.

Growers had been harvesting from plug plants since November.

But cold weather during December prompted them to cover their plants with row covers.

The covers protect the crop from colder temperatures but also create greenhouse-like conditions conducive to mold.

“This has been some of the coldest weather that we have seen in years,” Ponchatoula-area grower Eric Morrow said in the release. “Anytime the weather is in the 30s, we have to cover, and that has been the case most of the month of December.”

At the same time, growers had to contend with wet conditions that caused plant loss in some fields.

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