Farms preparing for first widespread frost - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Farms preparing for first widespread frost

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

Cold weather is here.  The season's first widespread frost advisory is in effect.

Temperatures are expected to hover around 32 degrees overnight.  

This first frost advisory is actually coming a bit later than normal, which gave farmers in western Massachusetts a longer growing season.  

However, the rush was on Thursday to finally get crops considered more tender out of the ground.  

McKinstry's Market Garden in Chicopee is closing up for the season next week.  With a frost coming, the rush is on to get those last crops harvested as soon as possible.

"The peppers, they don't like frost at all, so we're worried about those.  We picked those yesterday.  Tomatoes don't like a frost either," said Bill McKinstry with McKinstry's Market Garden

McKinstry told Western Mass News that his crew is also working to get any remaining string beans out of the fields along with squash.  

"Today, we're working on our butternut squash.  I am worried about that because that can't take a frost too well," McKinstry added.

McKinstry's Farm is out of the earlier season corn, but he still has an entire field of sweet corn to pick which he thinks will be okay if it's a light frost. 

"On the sweet corn, corn ear's down lower, so the tops might get singed, but the ears will be okay," McKinstry explained.

Traditionally, the growing season in New England wraps up, on average, by September 29, according to U.S.  Seeds Urban Farmer.  

"Yeah, it's actually kind of late this year.  We usually have a frost before now.   Sometimes, we're looking forward to it just we can get done sooner," McKinstry noted.

However, McKinstry's customer's love the later then usual season and are taking advantage of the late harvest - from root vegetables, like parsnips and turnips, to other cooler crops, like peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.  

If you have anything left in your own garden, the best advice is old advice: tuck them in.

"If you're worried about a light frost, you can always put sheets or blankets over your plants to protect them," McKinstry said.

As for your mums, there is a difference between garden and florist mums.  No need to cover up garden mums because they are hardy.   

However, those labeled florist, which are sold in more places then traditional florist shops, will not survive a frost. 

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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