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Unusually warm winter leads to early bloom, farmer concerns over freeze warnings

By Elisa Raffa,


LANCASTER, S.C. (PINPOINT WEATHER) – While freeze warnings are in effect Tuesday night, the cold is not the unusual part.

Cold weather continues around Charlotte Tuesday; temps gradually warm heading into 2nd half of week

Berries are blooming across the Carolinas more than a month early. Farmers are worried about temperatures dropping into the 20s for more than 6 hours.

Many of the berries at The Ivy Place Berries Farm in Lancaster, S.C., started blooming as early as February. Now, they’re more susceptible to frosts coming as late as April.

“Farmers are eternal optimists, so we’re always hoping something good will happen,” said farm owner Terry Graham.

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He says they bought more covers when the berries sprouted a month ago. His team is covering strawberries with two layers for double protection Tuesday night.

“We’re not particularly concerned about the strawberries because we think we can protect them,” explained Graham.

Those flowers can also usually rebloom and make more berries later.

“The roll covers are a fabric; they’re lightweight, said Graham. “It can give two or three degrees protection, but it’s a lot of labor to put them on and take them off and put them on and take them off.”

Blueberries are harder to protect.

Graham purposely planted multiple varietals of blueberries to stagger his crop and alleviate risk. But this year, they all started to bloom at the same time.

“The blueberries are a little more concerning, but we have different varieties at different stages of blooms, so we tend to think hopefully it won’t be a total loss,” he elaborated. “It’s certainly going to have some negative impact.”

Some blueberries blooming now are supposed to be late bloomers; picking typically isn’t until July.

His team hopes the freeze is manageable and short, so customers have berries to pick in the next few weeks.

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