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US (GA): Strawberry planting and cold weather

"We are right in the middle of strawberry planting in Georgia, and there are some things to consider with cold temperatures coming middle of next week," writes Jeff Cook on the website of the University of Georgia.

The forecast for next week looks good for deer hunting but not as good for folks that are just getting strawberry plants in the ground or trying to get them planted. The key to making it through this cold event is moisture and protecting roots.

Just because plants are in the ground doesn't mean you are safe from cold damage. Freezing temperatures are forecast for north Georgia Wednesday through Thursday. This can damage bare-root plants that have exposed roots (improperly planted). There is also potential for damage to plug plants if they are allowed to get dry.

Since many growers are in the process of planting, I would recommend keeping plugs well-watered ahead of planting. Once a plug dries out, it is extremely hard to get the planitng material and roots wet again, especially once in the soil. After planting, I would recommend overhead irrigation if growers have it. If not, then drip irrigation should be used to keep the soil both moist and warmer.

If growers keep plants moist prior to and after planting, they should have minimal issues with a few days of freezing temperatures. Of course, growers could always deploy row covers, but I don't think you need to go to that amount of trouble for this weather event.

We also need to be planning for a post-transplant application of fungicide for phytophthora root rot. You can contact your County Agent for specific recommendations. Also, be sure you are periodically scouting for spider mites. These pests are not easily detected and do most of their damage in the fall and winter months.

For more information:
University of Georgia Extension

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