MSU Researcher Offers Tips On Minimizing Freeze Damage

MSU Researcher Offers Tips On Minimizing Freeze Damage

Growers throughout the East may be experiencing temperatures well above normal for this time of year. But there is still potential for a late freeze, which means it’s a good idea to be fully prepared for the worst.


Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) feel the same way. Two recent reports from MSU Extension provide growers with important rules to consider.

For example, modifying the soil to capture and retain more heat is a way growers can reduce spring freeze injury. Weed-free soil retains more heat than freshly cultivated or unmowed sites and a few degrees may make a difference this spring. As MSU Extension agent Mark Longstroth says, “Cover crops can shade the soil. resulting in cooler soils during radiation frosts. Keeping the soil surface clean of vegetation allows it to absorb more heat during the day. Soils have a large heat capacity, so they can capture and store considerable heat during sunny days.” For more tips from Longstroth, click here.

In another report, Longstroth says that irrigation sprinklers can be used to protect plants from freezing when the expected lows are just below freezing. However, while sprinklers can be effective in many circumstances, “they can actually increase injury if used at the wrong time.” Longstroth goes on to offer several suggestions on monitoring wind speed, and knowing when to turn the system on and off. For the full report, click here.

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Virginia Rinkel says:

We have 3 acres of Chinese and European-Japanese chestnut trees. I've heard that you could spray your trees with potassium before a frost to bring the sugars up in the trees, keeping them warmer. Is this true, and if so, where could I read about this procedure. I'm sure we will have a destroying frost somewhere between now and the end of May, and would like to try something to keep the temps up during the night(s). Any suggestions on this?