Though some pray for nice weather, strawberry farmers pray for icy temperatures

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Irrigation during cold weather may seem counter-intuitive, but farmers know it can also work

POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – While farmers are trying to protect their crops from the freezing temperatures, some places actually want the ice because it can save some of their crops.

Rick Molnar always walks through his fields to look at his crops. He knows the forecast is looking chilly, which raises concerns about his strawberries.

“I think we can handle down to 28. We’ve never really seen much lower than that,” he said.

On Friday, it was snowing at Molnar Farms in Poland, an early hint for low temperatures.

Molnar is going to pump water on six acres of strawberries, a 10th of an inch every hour. He will start when the temperature gets close to freezing, aiming to create a thermal reaction with the water.

“When it’s converting from liquid to solid, it creates some heat and that will keep plant tissue from dropping below freezing. As long as it keeps that water moving all night long, the plants will survive,” Molnar said.

Though, it’s not a guarantee. Some of the plants were damaged in the cold earlier this week. Bad strawberry buds have a black center.

Tomatoes and peppers are also in the ground. A floating row cover has been doubled for Friday night, giving those plants an extra blanket.

The water is for the strawberries. Irrigation seems counter-intuitive, but farmers know it also works.

“We’ll get a layer of ice on that plant and we don’t know how thick that ice can go and still protect the tissue underneath,” Molnar said.

Orange growers in Florida do the same thing when they get cold temperatures.

Molnar believes the strawberries will be ready in early June. The tomatoes and peppers in late July.

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