Chilly temperatures keep Piedmont farmers and gardeners on edge

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C.–Unusually cool temperatures are keeping Piedmont farmers and gardeners on edge this spring.

Overnight temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s, which means farmer Kenneth Rudd is keeping a close eye on his plants.

At Rudd’s Farm in McLeansville, Rudd has more than six acres of strawberries and an unusual cold start to spring, means the covers are staying on his crops.

“It’s critical when it gets to the bloom temperature, one more degree down and you lose all your blooms or most of them and that’s the difference between making a profit,” Rudd explained.

This year’s strawberry crops are a big change from last year’s early April bloom.

Colder temperatures mean keeping the covers on the strawberries for a longer period of time, which cuts into Rudd’s pocket.

“You got probably roughly $1,000-$1,200 an acre in the coverage and every time we put them on and take them off, it’s probably maybe another $20 an acre,” he explained.

Gardeners are also anxious to get started on their planting for the season.

Rick Apple, owner of A & A Plants, is trying to convince those gardeners to be patient.

“We’re anxious. We have plant material that’s ready to go outside and ready for homeowners to come get. I just think you have to wait and be patient because you don’t want to have to plant it twice,” Apple said.

Strawberries are expected to be ready later this month.

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