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North Alabama Strawberry Plants Impacted by Cold, Deer

Clint Thompson Strawberry

By Clint Thompson

The cold weather experienced over Christmas weekend wreaked havoc on strawberry plants in North Alabama.

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Eric Schavey, regional Extension agent in Northeast Alabama, described the impact his growers’ plants incurred during the multiple days of below-freezing temperatures.

“What I’m hearing from some of my strawberry growers is they got out there to put row covers on just to protect them, and with the 35-to-40-mile per hour wind gusts, row covers got torn off,” Schavey said. “Then we had some rain to come in, and they were wet and piled up and frozen. We just had piles of frozen frost cloth laid everywhere. It was not good.

Eric Schavey

“We’re liking these 60-degree (Fahrenheit) days that we’re getting now, because we can get these frost cloths off of our strawberries and see what’s going on.”

Alabama growers have also dealt with deer feeding on plants. That has compounded the challenges they have faced following Christmas weekend.

“I had one grower that has about 25,000 plants planted, and deer has probably pulled up about 4,000 plants. It’s one thing if they go down through there and bite the tops, but they grab them to bite the tops and they pull the plants up,” Schavey said. “The reason they pull the plant up is we were so dry when we were making our beds, and they didn’t get as firm as we wanted them. When we stuffed the plugs and we do get some moisture in them, the plugs didn’t take really well, and deer is pulling it up when they bite them.”