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Freeze expected, protect vegetables

In anticipation of an expected freeze tomorrow, Craig Andersen, Arkansas Extension horticulture specialist for vegetables, released the following information:

“A freeze warning for most of Arkansas has been issued for Tuesday morning, April 7.

“The expected extent of the freeze ranges from a hard freeze in the northwestern counties to a light freeze all the way to the southern tier of counties. Warm-season crops such as tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans and peppers are the most susceptible to damage in south Arkansas. Watering fields well may help minimize damage if temperatures only reach 29 degrees.

“Cool-season crops such as onions, potatoes, asparagus, and leafy greens should experience little damage.

“Home gardeners are encouraged to water the garden well and use protective measures such as hot caps and floating row covers for their warm-season crops. Additional methods of protection such as straw and leaves over the plants will help minimize damage. Areas of the state where minimum temperatures are predicted to reach 25 to 28 degrees will experience severe damage to all warm-season crops that are unprotected.

“Cool-season crops may have some damage or leaf burn, but should recover. Crops such as potatoes will recover, and some onions may be exhibit premature flowering which does not affect the edibility of the bulb.

“A hard freeze — 20 to 24 degrees — is predicted for northwestern counties. Many cool-season crops will be damaged by these temperatures. Hardy crops such as spinach may have leaf burn but will recover. Unprotected leafy greens and lettuces will be damaged.

“The date of the expected freeze precedes the recommended planting date for warm-season crops in these counties. Over-exuberant gardeners in these areas may have tomatoes out and without protection they will be damaged beyond recovery. If the freeze occurs with little or no wind movement more drastic measures of protection using containers with straw or leaves over a well-watered plant may provide enough protection to escape damage.”

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