Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tomato Testing Days

The saga continues for these precious tomato plants. 

Yes, those are icicles hanging from the tomato plants.  This picture was taken at sunrise Saturday morning.

They were planted out in the field on Friday.  
Then the came the FROST warning Saturday morning.  I don't need to tell you how devastating a frost can be on an early spring crop.

There are a couple different things we can do to combat frost:

1. The old school way was to burn tires in the field at various locations.  The idea with that was the rising heat would create air circulation and prevent the coldest air from settling at ground level (which contributes to frost).   It is questionable whether this helps at all.  And we didn't have any scrap tires handy.
2. The fancy way to prevent frost is to use a row cover, which is basically a blanket that covers the crop and intercepts the frost.  This is expensive and time consuming and we weren't prepared to do this for the tomatoes.

Behind door #3---Is our contestant of choice.  Sprinklers.  We have them handy and they were set up in a couple of hours.

 Sprinklers work because the water temperature is above freezing and as long as you can keep the tomato plants wet, they won't freeze.  Sometimes the water freezes on the plants!  This can even happen when temperatures are above freezing, due to evaporative cooling.

 This was the case Saturday morning.
 Air temperature 39F + Humidity 40% + Dew point 25F = water freezes.
The tomato plants are still okay, because they are not damaged unless the temperature drops below 30F and you'll remember from IPS that whenever water and ice exist as a mixture the temperature is always 32F (at sea level).
This is the wireless thermometer that let us know at 3am that the dew point was below freezing.

The tomatoes made it through the freeze, but they weren't out of the woods yet.  Monday the sun is shining and the wind is BLOWING.  40 MPH gusts.  Almost all of the stems held strong.

 Some did not. This guy was too soft.  He didn't make it.

Overall the tomato field is still looking great, and the dream of 4th of July tomatoes is still alive!

1 comment:

  1. Jeremiah wanted me to tell you that he really likes the icicle picture!