Cold snap could affect crops around York County
It might be 70 degrees outside Thursday and Friday, but that warm weather is going to come to an abrupt end this weekend, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service.
York County will see temperatures dipping into the 20s overnight this weekend, especially on Saturday and Sunday, said Robert Radzanowski, meteorologist with the NWS in State College.
“It wouldn’t be out of the question to see some flurries Sunday night, but there shouldn’t be any accumulation,” he said. “It’ll definitely be breezy as the cold air moves in. There’s going to be a bite to it.”
Fruit trees: Dave Brown, president of Brown’s Orchard and Farm Market in Loganville, said the cold snap might affect the peach and cherry trees that have started to blossom.
“It’s all so dependent on how calm the winds are,” Brown said. “The cherries and peaches in particular, if we get some really still nights, that’ll allow that frost to penetrate into the blossoms.”
Natural thinning of the crop and blossoms is a good thing, Brown said. However, depending on how far down into the 20s it gets, more of the crop can be lost.
“If you get down to 22 degrees, you could be losing 80 percent of the crop,” he said. “There’s a formula we use to determine it.”
About 95 percent of Brown’s Orchard’s peach trees are blossoming, said Ray Dietrich III, orchard manager. Only about 25 percent have reached full bloom and have been pollinated, which Dietrich said makes the plant heartier against the cold.
“Our blooms are about two to three weeks ahead of time,” he said. “We’ve had peach blossoms out for a week now. It’ll take a 26-degree night or worse to do some damage. Dead calm nights where it gets down below 26, that’s when you worry.”
Protect gardens: Tom Kines, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, said it’s still too early for traditional farmers to be planting in the fields. However, that won’t stop some amateur gardeners from starting their planting.
Kines said it’s best to hold off, even though some people are eager to start their yearly gardens.
“There’s no doubt that it’s going to get cold this weekend,” he said. “If you’re planting a garden already, you have to have a backup plan to protect the plants. It’s probably best to wait.”
This weekend and into the beginning of the weekend will be colder than normal, Kines said. The normal low around this time of year is the mid-30s.
“Even then, you have to have a plan to protect your plants,” he said. “It doesn’t take much of a cold front to damage plants.”
Brown said this time of year is always full of worry for the orchard because of the possibly cold nights. He said the weather is more “touch and go” for where the temperature will settle every night.
“We’re generally more protected here in south central Pennsylvania than in the north and western parts of the state,” Brown said. “Those folks up there are really concerned right now. We’re thinking about them as growers.”
Even if the growers lose the crop entirely, Brown said maintenance still needs to be done on the orchard to make sure it’s viable next year.
– Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.