Tuesday, April 01, 2008

March: out like a lion

And here just a few weeks ago I'd jinxed the season by mentioning that it didn't feel like we were likely to get a frost this season.
And then the weather report came out on Saturday night suggesting that we might drop well below freezing on Sunday night...

And so we did....the frost alarm here went off just after midnight.
Not that it woke me up. Frankly, when I know it's coming I can't really fall asleep anyway.
I already had the coffee pot ready to go, and as I was only drowsy I knew it'd only take a quick cup to go with me in the truck to get me fired up. There's a lot of adrenaline that shoots into your system when you have 2" shoots already out on the vines and the temp's dropping below freezing - fast. This really is the danger zone for all growers, a time when everyone needs to be extra cautious to make sure your crop isn't lost to a late frost which kills the buds off. Those shoots in the photo above are really in danger on a night like Sunday's.

I turned on the sprinklers at midnight when it was just dipping past 33°, as I knew that was just the start! The lowest temp I registered was 27 °F @ ~4 AM, and even at sunrise the temp hadn't climbed back out of the danger zone yet...
It wasn't until a little after 9 AM that I turned off the water system, and by that time I had used about a foot of water out of the irrigation pond.

Luckily we've had a decent amount of rain this year (so far...we still need another 7.5" to be at our "normal" level), and the pond has plenty of ammo in it to fight a snap frost here or there.
But my frost protection pond is also my irrigation pond for summer, so I'd rather not see too many of these incidents - not only because it puts the shoots in danger of getting frosted & wilting, but also because it means I don't have as many options when we hit a warm dry snap in the summer or just before harvest. As it is, there's no harm done...this time.
Woe to those whose system fails, whether it is a fan system or irrigation setup, as there's no real way to recover from losing your most productive buds to frost... once the cold air has done its damage, your coming harvest is pretty much shot for the affected vines....

So here we had March, which came in like a lamb with warm temps, heading out like a lion.....albeit a quiet lion, without much in the way of noise (storms), but certainly a dangerous situation for the coming crop.

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