University of Kentucky High Tunnel Research Facility

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After the Polar Vortex

Posted by UKHTRF on January 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM

We--like many others--are assessing damage to our crops after the chilling temperatures and winds blew through the Bluegrass in the early days of the New Year. Surprisingly, we only lost a few crops during that incredible cold. In our beet beds, the Red Ace variety survived the best, while the Golden Beets fared the worst. We lost enough Goldens and Chioggias to call them crop losses, but we still have our fingers crossed on the Red Ace. We lost a few head lettuces here and there, and some of our greens had some frost damage, but by and large, we still appear in good shape. The biggest shock of all was probably the survival of some tiny arugula and spinach that had just poked up before the cold came.

We have been using frost blanket (row cover) inside the tunnels over the nights when temps were expected to dip below the mid-20s Fahrenheit. This provides a little more insulation and helps keep any frost that might form in the tunnels off the plants. We take the blanket off the crops during the days to allow the little bit of winter light that comes through to reach the plant. 

How are your tunnel crops faring after the Big Chill? Let us know!

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