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Old March 11, 2011   #1
jsvand5
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Default What temp do you cover your plants at?

We are having a bit of a coldfront down here in FL. I am prediceted to see 36-38 degrees with possible frost. Should I go out tonight and try to cover everything or should they be ok? I just planted them about a week ago and losing them now would this season a wash.
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Old March 11, 2011   #2
kath
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If your forecasters are as accurate as the ones we have up here, I'd say cover if they predict 40 or lower. Better safe than sorry. Tomatoes aren't frost hardy.

Some say they have luck putting a sprinkler on them in the coldest early am hours until the sun's up.
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Old March 11, 2011   #3
Suze
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Don't have any neat and easy answers for you, other than to say if you think it is going to get close, best to go ahead and cover.

Be aware that although it usually doesn't happen, theoretically a frost can occur when it drops below 40 or high 30's.

I'd also point out / ask - what source are you using for that forecast? Weather Underground is the best and most reliable, at least here in Texas. The local weatherman, intellicast, etc. tend to be over-optimistic - frequently too optimistic for my personal comfort zone in those close call cases on cold spring nights.
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Old March 11, 2011   #4
jsvand5
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I am going by weather.com they are usually pretty dead on for me. Wunderground usually forecasts way low in my area. They are calling for 33 tonight which has no chance of happening.
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Old March 11, 2011   #5
piegirl
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I'd cover if you can. Winds can play a big role also but up here we are generally talking arctic blast! piegirl
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Old March 11, 2011   #6
Suze
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jsvand5, good luck - here's hoping your plants will make it though okay tonight.

Btw, a tip should you ever need it if you are caught out and didn't cover in time - misting your plants throughout the night can save them even if they aren't covered. I've saved plants down to 27F with no damage at all this way. The misting does need to be pretty much constant though, especially when it gets into the 20's. As I'm sure you might be aware of living in Fla, citrus growers sometimes do this. Cranberry growers also apply overhead irrigation on cold nights to save their crops.
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Old March 11, 2011   #7
nctomatoman
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I may play it a bit riskier, but have yet to be bitten - 32 degrees is the magic number for me - the freezing point....if they forecast for 34, I am usually OK - I have some rolls of Reemay, and if 33 or 34 is forecast (or lower, of course), I cover with Reemay (floating row cover). I've had them out there where we drop as low as 28 and under Reemay they've done fine. If it is lower than that, they all come in to the garage (which is no fun at all!).
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Old March 11, 2011   #8
organichris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suze View Post
Don't have any neat and easy answers for you, other than to say if you think it is going to get close, best to go ahead and cover.

Be aware that although it usually doesn't happen, theoretically a frost can occur when it drops below 40 or high 30's.
I had no idea it could frost above 32 degrees.
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Old March 11, 2011   #9
creister
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Dewpoint plays a role in frost formation where you don't have to be at 32 for frost on plants. I keep mine covered in row cover until they are quite large due to our high wind speeds in the spring. I would cover them if you can.
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Old March 11, 2011   #10
organichris
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I don't have anything in the ground yet. I'm gonna hold out until April or May if I can help it. We had frost yesterday or the day before.
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Old March 11, 2011   #11
BSue54
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Originally Posted by creister View Post
Dewpoint plays a role in frost formation where you don't have to be at 32 for frost on plants. I keep mine covered in row cover until they are quite large due to our high wind speeds in the spring. I would cover them if you can.
AHS Class of 72 I remember vividly how unpredictable spring can be up your way. I even remember a year that it snowed like crazy in May - of course it didn't stick but it really did snow very hard for a while.

I grew up thinking that the expression "if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it'll change" was written about Taylor County

And I'll admit, I carried all of my baby 'maters inside last night, and was glad I did - even down here 50 miles from Houston, it dipped to 32 right before sun-up this morning.
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Old March 11, 2011   #12
Tim76
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Originally Posted by kath View Post
If your forecasters are as accurate as the ones we have up here, I'd say cover if they predict 40 or lower. Better safe than sorry. Tomatoes aren't frost hardy.

Some say they have luck putting a sprinkler on them in the coldest early am hours until the sun's up.

Personally i've never done it but my wife's grandfather who has raised 1500+ plants for most of his life uses sprinklers without any loss.

He claims as long as you wash the frost off before sunlight and keep it washed off, frost will not damage the plants. Works for him
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Old March 12, 2011   #13
Suze
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Personally i've never done it but my wife's grandfather who has raised 1500+ plants for most of his life uses sprinklers without any loss.

He claims as long as you wash the frost off before sunlight and keep it washed off, frost will not damage the plants. Works for him
I only grow a couple hundred or so plants, but constant overhead irrigation in the wee hours - usually 3 to 5am or so until early morning (it usually gets the very coldest just before dawn) has worked very well for me in the past.

However, for the last three years - I now wrap my cages as soon as I plant out in mid-weight row cover that protects down to 28F and leave it in place until all possible chance or frost or freeze has passed. Takes a few hours to apply, but does save me a lot of worry later.
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