W. MI farmers prepare for spring freeze

Ottawa County

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — With temperatures expected to dip below freezing this weekend, farmers are using several types of tactics to fight back against the looming weather.

“We have these under perforated plastic,” said Phil Visser, owner of Visser Farms in Zeeland. “And then some of them, where we can, we put a layer of frost cloth over that yet. Hopefully, we’ll save some that way depending on how cold it gets.”

Calm, freezing air is a significant threat to crops like tomatoes and pickles. Frost covers are a major way to combat the frost.

“The plastic bed creates heat in the ground, so that warms up from there, and of course, the cloth helps keep the frost off the top,” he said.

In addition, sprinkler systems keep the plants safe because it locks them in a very fluid, non-damaging freezing cycle.

“If it freezes or the temperature drops below 32, at 10 o’clock we’ll turn the pumps on,” said Dale DeLange, owner of Redberry Farm in Hudsonville. “And if it stays that way until 7 the next morning, we run it for that duration.”

De Lange’s Redberry Farm near Hudsonville on May 8, 2020.

Strawberries and raspberries are about a week behind their normal blossom, which ended up being a lucky break.

“There is some good in the late freeze, if that’s what we’re going to have tonight because things are not as progressed along as they normally were,” he said.

And right now, it’s just a matter of doing what you can to get by.

“We don’t pay it a worry,” said Visser. “We just do our best, and the Lord will take care of it.”

Cooler temperatures tend to slow everything down, and the main concern at this point is just getting enough head out of the year to keep production on track.

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