Growers Deal with Freeze

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The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning for most of northeastern and central Pennsylvania, with overnight temperatures expected to be in the 20s.

The warning has growers in Lackawanna County scrambling to protect their plants.

A bee checking out flowers may think spring is in full swing, but those at Corky's Garden Path in Justus said we are not out of the cold-weather woods just yet.

Icicles still dripped from plants, evidence of Friday's effort to fight the freeze.

With another overnight cold snap in the forecast, workers are ready to deal with it all again.

"As you can see, we have two temporary structures that we built and plastic-coated, and put all the tender, or valuable material into the temporary structures. Material that we couldn`t move, we ran sprinklers on in three-hour intervals last night so the ice buildup wasn`t too thick," said nursery manager Trevor Kashuba.

Kashuba said the temporary greenhouses hold 2,000 plants, but another 3,000 remain outside in the elements.

With no more room in the temporary structures to protect plants from the freezing temperatures, Kashuba said he actually had to hold off on the delivery of four tractor trailers full of plants coming from Connecticut.

"It turns any tender material black and all the tender leaves will brown up. It makes it basically unsellable until August," added Kashuba. "We thought the early March temperatures were a blessing, but we`re paying for it now."

"I was ready last month. You get spring fever when it gets warm," said Brenda Underwood of Scranton.

Underwood bought some plants she knows she will have to keep inside for a while.

"Cause it`s too cold. We have planted, but the herbs, the strong herbs, we just cover them with a basket," she added.

Kashuba said any kind of fabric, like bed sheets or pillowcases, are good for covering plants.

Over at Pallman Farms near Clarks Summit, that is not an option for their 10 acres of strawberries.

An irrigation system pumped water on the crops for 12 hours overnight, also using ice to try to prevent more damage.

"The ice actually gives off heat energy when it forms ice on the bud so it actually insulates that bud from freezing," said Brian Pallman of Pallman Farms.

Pallman said the strawberries that will be harvested around June are the most critical to protect from the cold.

"It`s part of the gamble you take growing stuff. You have to deal with Mother Nature," added Pallman.

Many growers said they hope their crops make it through to the forecasted warm-up next week.