Drastic Temperature Drop Has Growers Nervous

A cold snap is expected for northern New England going into the Memorial Day Weekend, with temperatures dipping below freezing in some areas overnight into Saturday. With the steep drop coming, many gardeners and some farmers are taking steps to protect their plantings.

"We’re going to have near-record lows, not only in Vermont, but across most of New England," according to necn meteorologist Nelly Carreño. "As a matter of fact, for Vermont, we have freeze warnings in effect for most of the eastern and central areas of Vermont – Bennington and Windham Counties, also in Southern Vermont. And extreme western areas have frost advisories. For the freeze warnings, that means your lows could dip down as low as the mid-20s."

At Vermont’s famous Shelburne Museum, head gardener Jess Gallas halted the planting she and South Burlington High School student volunteers had planned to do Friday, after hearing meteorologists warn about temperatures dipping below freezing.

"They’re like babies to us," Gallas said of the annuals she started from seed in a greenhouse. "So we don’t really want to put them out there until the threat of the frost has gone away."

Gallas said she will be keeping tender young plants inside a greenhouse until next week, after the nighttime cold snap passes. "It could kill everything, and we wouldn’t take that chance."

Gallas expected that, after this cold weather delay, she will have all her gardens at Shelburne Museum planted by early June.

At Shelburne Orchards, Rob Healy wasn’t alarmed about the impending drop in temperatures Friday night. "We’re watching, but we’re not worried," he told necn.

Healy explained he bets his location near Lake Champlain is going to protect the fruit trees, because the valley near the lake tends to stay warmer.And the good news for Shelburne Orchards is that a beekeeper has already brought his hives in to help pollinate the apple, peach, and plum trees.

"If the flowers got frosted and fell off the trees, the bees would have nothing to be attracted to, so that would really hurt pollination," Healy explained. "But at least the bees have done their part, so we’re good that way."

For the latest on New England’s weather, rely on the Early Warning Weather page on www.necn.com, or download the necn app for free through your mobile device's app store. 

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