MCC Daily Tribune Archive

Frost Protection Measures

Crops susceptible to light frost include tomatoes, peppers, egg plant, summer squash cucumbers, flowers – tender perennials and many annuals.  The leaves of the pumpkins plants will die, revealing how many pumpkins and winter squash are in the field. Many of these crops are late either by days or weeks for many growers, hence this frost could be a significant spoiler if widespread.  Pumpkins can tolerate the frost but it is not a good idea to expose them. 

Sweet corn can handle several hard frosts; colder temps actually help improve the color of apples.

Many types of dark colored soils are better at absorbing light that light colored soils during the day. Consequently dark colored soils can store more heat and not be as prone to frost.

Frost management tips:

Harvest early – A crop like tomatoes is very sensitive to frost. If you have no way to protect the plants, harvest all the fruit that are in the mature green stage and store them in boxes in a warm, dark location with some air movement. Tomatoes do not need light to ripen; in fact, light will slow the ripening. Store where the temperature does onto go below 55 F

Don’t cultivate when a frost threatens. A loose, cultivated field insulates the soil and prevents heat movement from the soil to the air and around the plants. A more compacted soil will actually release heat more quickly to the air, thus protecting the plants.

The use of covers – this is a good stand by and the best time to apply them would be in late afternoon when the wind has died down. Flowers in pots should be brought under cover or up against the house on the southwest corner.

Bob King
Agriculture and Life Sciences Institute