Cold weather threatens some crops in the Triad

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Hubert Hill likes what he sees as he walks through the apple trees in his Trinity orchard.

"The apple trees are still asleep," Hill said. "But they are beginning to realize that spring will soon be here."

Hill feels pretty good about the apple trees because they were not fooled by our warm February. But it's a different story for the plums.

"No potential fruit in this blossom," he says, as he looks at one of the blossoms.

A chilly March burned the plum blossoms. So once again, Hill will not have any plums. But he is holding out hope for his very productive peach tree.

"I have a lot of trees, but this one is special," Hill said. "It has peaches that are just as good as this blossom is pretty."

A few peach blossoms were lost to the cold. But this leaves more room for surviving blooms to grow larger peaches. That's why Hill is hoping a prolonged spell of cold air is not in the forecast.

"Well, one year we had no crop," he said. "For two years we had part of a crop. So it's time to have a full crop."

Meanwhile at Bernie's Berries in Greensboro, co-owner James Kenan is looking over his seven acres of strawberries.

"At the present time the berries look real good," Kenan said. "We don't see any disease problems right now."

But Kenan is concerned about the cold.

"We've actually lost a few blooms because of the cold," Kenan said. "It might help us because the fruit will tend to be larger if there's not as many berries on the vine."

To make sure the surviving blossoms grow bigger strawberries, giant sheets covering the young strawberries wave like the ocean as the wind blows across the fields. The cover increases the ground temperature by eight degrees. This keeps the killing frost away, but Kenan explains the cover also keeps what the strawberries need away.

"We need bees for pollination," he said. "The bees can't get underneath the covers."

Plus the added heat can speed up the blooming process. It's a risk Bernie's Berries is willing to take to make sure strawberries are ready in late April. Peaches will be ready in June.

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