An Illinois specialty grower’s concerns about which crops may be impacted by unseasonably cold weather depends on their region.
Farmers in deep southern Illinois are a couple of weeks from picking strawberries, while those in the northwest plan to keep tender greens inside a few more days and others farming in central Illinois are watching other crops.
In Union County, Austin Flamm worried the April 14-15 forecast called for “the coolest temperatures we’ve had for a while” at Flamm Orchards, Cobden.
Flamm wasn’t worried about his heavy apple crop that was in full bloom April 13 and may require thinning or his “very big peach crop” that ended bloom a week prior and needs to be thinned.
“We may have to provide frost protection on the strawberries” that were a couple of weeks from picking, Flamm said. “I’m pretty hopeful that won’t be a problem. We’ve got a good-looking crop now.”
Near Centralia, Tom Schwartz, owner of Schwartz Orchard, considered frost protection for his perennial strawberries. “We’re a week behind. There is no bloom; they’re in little clusters,” he said April 13. “I might water them from 3 to 7 a.m., depending on the temperature, to keep the temperature up and keep them from freezing.”
Schwartz estimated his apple crop averaged 60% to 70% bloom and was a week to 10 days ahead, while his peaches were also 60% to 70% bloom and in “petal fall.”
In Sangamon County, Dale Jefferies expected his apple crop currently in tight clusters would “be good down to the 20s” at Jefferies Orchard, Springfield. Under different circumstances, Jefferies would have worried about the peaches, but a bone-chilling 5 to 6 degrees below zero Feb. 6 “took a bite out of the peaches,” resulting in a short crop this year.
Jefferies’ 4 acres of strawberries had buds at ground level and wouldn’t be impacted, he said.
In Carroll County, Diane Etnyre and her husband, Dennis, use five high tunnels as part of their Argo Acres specialty farm near Thomson. Etnyre said low temperatures of 22 degrees were expected April 13.
“We have green beans in the high tunnel. I hope they haven’t come up yet,” she said. Meanwhile lettuce and kohlrabi needed to join the green beans, but given the forecast, “I hope they can last another four days (in their current location) and then we’ll plant them,” Etnyre added.
The Etnyres had 150 pounds of potatoes to plant, possibly over the weekend if the weather cooperates, and a couple of cases of sweet onion sets coming that would need to be put into the ground. Their strawberries will be ready in early June.