Farmer Jones has spent the past two nights out in the fields, keeping a close eye on the temperature. After weeks of warm weather, nightly temperatures have dropped and spring frosts have become a danger to the crops. As the temperature approaches freezing, Farmer Jones turns on the irrigation system and watches the fields to make sure that everything is in working order. Without the protection of a sprinkler system, developing buds in the strawberry fields and tree nurseries could be killed.
Although the process may seem counterintuitive, watering the fields during freezing conditions actually helps save the buds. When water changes from a liquid to a solid (ice), heat is released. This small burst of warmth protects developing buds from killing frosts under a layer of ice.
This process is especially important for our strawberries this time of year as delicate white flowers begin to develop. If these flowers are attacked by frost, the yellow center (which would eventually turn into the strawberry) turns black and no fruit will form later in the season. Spring brings long days and nights for Farmer Jones (last night the irrigation system was turned on at 1:30 am!), but the rewards will be juicy and sweet this summer.