Ohio farmers working to protect crops during spring freeze

CIRCLEVILLE, OH (WCMH) —  Temperatures fell into the mid 20’s Tuesday morning. Lots of green thumbs covered their sensitive vegetation, but some farmers also took some extreme measures to keep their crops safe.

Farmer Brian Helser says, “There’s nothing else I would rather do.”  He oversees acres of green space on the family farm.

He explains, “This is how we make our living. Apples to zucchini, a lot of fruits and vegetables. We try to keep a good variety.”

Helser operates Paige’s Produce and grows crops from A to Z.

“P” stands for peaches, and problems they face on cold April mornings.

Helser adds, “Whether you are me growing peaches, a farmer raising cattle or wheat, there’s just some things you have to do to save a crop and you’ll go to any length you can.”  That meant a sleepless night for Helser.

IMG_3937Sprinklers were spraying water, hundreds of gallons of water per minute. Water was coming from his retention pond, pump powered by his tractor creating a winter wonderland of ice.

Peach trees are encased with ice. He says, “That freezing process actually creates a little bit of heat. It doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but it works.”  The ice insulating the delicate buds.  Helser adds, “These are the blooms right here. Here’s where the peach will form.”

The technique protects the delicate crops from mother nature’s chilly touch. Helser explains, “If they have been frosted, they’ll actually have a black dot inside and it just dies. I didn’t see that on that one (a bud).”IMG_3938

That is good news after a freezing night. Helser will be ready knowing more cold nights loom ahead on the early spring calendar.

“This is definitely what I grew up doing, being on a farm. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Experts tell gardeners to cover delicate plants with fabric like sheets, burlap, or old t-shirts on cold nights. Do not use plastic because it does not insulate plants well.

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