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Arkansas Farmers Brace For Late Spring Freeze

KTHV

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — On average, Arkansas’ final freeze comes on March 20, but it seems another one is underway.

Employees at one local orchard have taken extra steps to protect their crops from the freezing temperatures.

Founded in 1980, Barnhill Orchards off Highway 89 near Cabot grows a wide variety of produce.

“If you can raise it, I raise it,” Rex Barnhill said.

The forecast has Barnhill watching his strawberry crop especially close.

“It is dicy,” he said. “And there’s not much I can do about it other than what I can affect. I’ve done what I can do.”

He hopes pumping the plants with groundwater and covering them with blankets will be enough to carry his strawberries through the weekend.

“What the blanket does is holds the heat in — usually 4, 5, 6 degrees warmer than the air temperature,” Barnhill said. “It’ll be that much warmer under the blanket.”

The orchard’s peaches are just beyond the bloom phase and up off the ground, which adds protection from frost. Thus, Barnhill believes they will make it through the cold snap.

Ultimately, survival depends on how long temperatures stay below freezing, Barnhill said.

“I advise everyone who has started their garden already to get their sheets out and lay it out and keep the frost off of ’em and protect all of those young plants. If you don’t make it, I’ve got plenty,” he said.