Local farmers brace for overnight cold snap - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local farmers brace for overnight cold snap

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Local farmers spent the day prepping their crops for the freezing temperatures expected Wednesday night. These conditions will kill or significantly
damage crops and other sensitive vegetation that are left unprotected.

It's why the Crabtree Farms staff spent the day prepping their crops for the cold. There's a lot of crops to keep up with, but Executive Director, Sara McIntyre says she's concerned about two of their summer vegetables; tomatoes and peppers. 

"It’s been a bit of a juggling act for us and one that we are just going to have to roll with like everybody who does agriculture," said McIntyre. "We’ve had to put jackets essentially on top of our crops so our tomatoes in here are covered with two layers of floating road cover. That’s two layers of blankets."

READ MORE | Cosmetic frost damage to perennials during cold snaps 

Nearly 400 tomatoes are sheltered in one of several greenhouses. They've been growing since December. At least 180 peppers are stored next door. All of which are vulnerable to the cold.

But that's not all.

"We have a bunch of summer babies, squash, corn, tomatoes, peppers that we are having to keep in the greenhouse tonight and cover extra. You actually are killing the plant by giving it to a to low temperature," said McIntyre. 

But McIntyre says constant heavy rainfall doesn't help either.

"For us with our clay soil it takes four to five days for us to be able to get into a field after it rains and with the rains coming so frequently we're having trouble getting in and turning the soil so that we can even plant." 

While there's a lot at stake, McIntyre says she and her staff are confident things will work out in the long run. 

"Hopefully once it gets warm, it gets warm and stays warm and the plants will catch back up." 

The Crabtree Farms staff will assess the crops in the morning. Any damaged crops will be tossed into a compose. The surviving crops will be on sale at their Spring Plant Sale and Festival on April 6th and 7th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again on April 8th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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