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by Amanda McWhirt - October 14, 2022
Many strawberry plants across Arkansas have been in the ground for a few weeks now,
however due to plant availability or delays in soil preparation some plantings are
just going in the ground.
There are freezing to sub-freezing temperatures predicted for the next week (10/18-10/20/22),
which is likely to be an early first freeze for much of the state and potentially
a hard first freeze.
Here are my recommendations regarding using row-covers in the coming weeks on fall
planted strawberry crops:
In my mind there are two main issues to consider when you decided if you should apply
a row cover this coming week:
Monitor closely what low temperatures they are calling for at your site. If they are calling for lows below 29F I would think seriously about covering with
a 1oz cover regardless of when you planted. This cold front is likely to bring the first freezing temperatures we have had this
fall. Since we haven’t had previous nights near freezing the strawberry plants are
less likely to be hardened off and to have started the process of acclimating for
winter. In 2019 we had a freeze on Veterans day (Nov 11th, 2019) where temps got to the low 20s across the state and resulted in cold injury
to strawberry crowns on plants that were not covered with a row cover. Also be aware
of differences in cold tolerance among varieties. Ruby June and Fronteras are both much more susceptible to cold injury than Chandler
in our experience. Camino real is somewhere in between. If they are calling for low temperatures between
40-35F I would not plan to cover your plants, unless you planted late.
If you planted late (see Advisory: Part 1 for more info), I would recommend applying a row cover for the nights when temperatures are predicted
to get below 40F this coming week. There are about 2-3 nights right now where a row
cover might be necessary in the Northern part of the state. After that I would remove
the covers as temperatures are predicted to return to daily highs in the 70s or above.
If daily high temperatures remain cool (below 60F) leaving the row covers on for a
few more weeks on late plantings may help the crop to establish.
Again keep an eye out for the low temperatures this coming week! Email if you have
any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org