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Southern Ill. wineries and orchards prepare for incoming weather

As the temperatures are set to dip below freezing tonight, some local farmers hoping the cold weather won't kill off their crops.
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 4:50 PM CST
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COBDEN, lll. (KFVS) - As the temperatures are set to dip below freezing Friday evening into Saturday morning, some businesses are hoping that the cold weather won’t kill off their crops.

“Cold weather this late in the year is never good. Luckily this cold stretch is going to be short lived, it’s not going to be down in the single digits but it’s still a concern,” Austin Flamm, manager of Flamm Orchards, said.

He said there is one benefit to a freeze.

“Right now we do have a pretty good peach crop, we’ve lost a few over winter. We’re hoping that we don’t lose to many, a little natural thinning isn’t the worst thing to happen as long as it’s not all isolated in one area,” said Flamm.

Flamm Orchards is also getting ready for their strawberries season.

“We keep our strawberry’s under a cloth cover this time of year. It helps to insults them, uses the radiate ground heat to raise the temperature beneath the beds just a few degrees which in instances like this, a few degrees Be the difference in having a crop or not,” said Flamm.

As for local wineries, they are not anticipating many problems with the grape vineyards.

“Grape vines accumulate what’s called cold heartiness over time. So in the fall as it starts to get colder and colder, they’ll be able to withstand colder and colder temperatures until the very middle of winter. And then once it starts to warm back up in the spring they will lose that cold heartiness,” said Scott Albert, the winemaker at Kite Hill Vineyard.

Albert said a freeze later in the spring is a bigger issue.

“As we go further into spring, the risk goes up and the temperatures that we are concerned about are higher than they will be tonight,” said Albert.

And at Blue Sky Vineyard, Thomas Atkins said the work prior to freezing temperatures is more significant than what they can do now for their crop.

“Our sight selection, choosing high elevation sites. Hilltops like you see in orchards in our area as well as other vineyards. Choosing varieties that are very cold hearty. That are well suited for this environment,” said Atkins.

Both vineyards expect to have crop this year.

For Flamm Orchards, they are playing the waiting game to see if any peaches will not make it through this winter weather.

“Just kind of hope you wake up tomorrow and come out in a few days after that and cut some buds open and still see some green and some life in them,” said Flamm.

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