Break in the Weather

Gordon Johnson, Extension Fruit & Vegetable Specialist; gcjohn@udel.edu

March was a very poor month for early spring crops due to cool, wet conditions. In most areas there were only 3-6 days in March where soils were suitable for planting. This limited March plantings of peas, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, and other early season vegetables. With the break in the weather, unseasonably high temperatures, and wind, much drying has occurred allowing for land preparation and planting into good soil conditions. Pea and potato planting is progressing, plastic is being laid for early warm season vegetables, early sweet corn has been planted and the first sweet corn plantings have emerged.

With the warm temperatures, growers are reminded that the likelihood that we will see a return to cold weather and will see frost again in April is still very high. At Georgetown, our last frost in 2008 and 2009 was on April 17. This means that growers should wait until the last week in April for the first plantings of frost sensitive crops such as melons and tomatoes or be prepared to use row covers for frost protection on those crops if planting earlier. For most of Delaware, there is still a 60-70 % chance of a frost through the third week in April; however, the risk of a major freeze event from this point on is very small.

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