Warmer February weather impacting how New Jersey farms protect their crops

New Jersey saw temperatures in the 60s once again on Thursday – temperatures that are very much above average for this time of the year.

News 12 Staff

Feb 16, 2023, 10:42 PM

Updated 520 days ago

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New Jersey saw temperatures in the 60s once again on Thursday – temperatures that are very much above average for this time of the year. Some farmers are saying that the warmer temperatures are impacting their crops.
The owners of Alstede Farm in Chester say that some changes are being made out in the fields due to the warmth.
Strawberry plants should not be bearing any fruit until May, so the plants at Alstede are too green for mid-February.
"This is them trying to come out of their dormancy, getting ready to start pushing their buds,” says Rebekah Alstede.
Alstede says that as of last week, they had to make a slight adjustment to the field because of this warm weather.
"We have removed all of the row covers from our strawberries in hopes the colder temperatures at night - 30 and 29 degrees - will slow their growth a little a little bit,” she says. "Today being 60 degrees, it would've felt like 70 degrees under here for them."
Alstede says that if strawberries start growing in March, they could get hit by a frost and the whole crop could be lost.
Meanwhile, workers were pruning along the row of apple trees. It is normal for this time of the year. But what is not normal is to see workers in short sleeves.
The apple trees also have flower buds on them.
"This is the inside of it. You can see that it's green and alive. So, this is how we know none of these buds are frost-damaged or have any kind of cold damage yet,” Alstede says.
Alstede Farm has 500 acres it uses for growing. Peach trees and blueberries are dormant at this time of year, so they won't be affected negatively by the warmth. It's the frost that could become an issue.
"We put the mulch on the bottom of them to keep them warmer. We've been doing that this week,” Alstede says.
Alstede says that if New Jersey gets winter weather or snow next week, they'll quickly put the covers back on the strawberries to keep them warm.


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