Cold weather forced early season harvest of asparagus at Eckert’s Farm

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ST. LOUIS – April showers brings a threat to May flowers and summer’s harvest. Behind the snow, the silent killer will be the cold. Sub-freezing temperatures has local gardeners and farmers worried.

It was an unusual sight for late April: workers out in the field at Eckert’s Farm during heavy snowfall harvesting asparagus.

The farmers did a total cut of all stalks to avoid the killing freeze. Anything below 32 degrees will kill the stalks. The vegetable cut will be donated to local restaurants.

As for the fruit like peaches, apples, and strawberries, it’s not that easy as it’s still far too early for a harvest. Peaches and apples can survive up to 28 degrees.

The strawberries are more sensitive. They can feel impacts as temperatures drop to 32 degrees. Luckily for strawberries there’s more that can be done.

“It is going to be an event that keeps us up tonight and tomorrow night,” Chris Eckert, president of Eckert’s Farm said. “We will keep the water on the strawberries. We will be turning that on probably about 9 or 10 tonight. We will be running the sprinklers all night over the strawberry plants. Actually, when water freezes it gives off a small amount of heat. And that process is just enough to keep that flower being damaged from the cold.”

By Wednesday afternoon, they will be able to check the flower buds to access how much damage has been done.

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