Killing freeze possible for Harvey County

A map of expected lows and a freeze in Harvey County.
A National Weather Service Graphic released early Friday April 16 warns of freezes for South Central Kansas. By Friday afternoon, a forecaster for the weather service gave a prediction of that lows would be even colder than numbers shown on the graphic.

By Adam Strunk 

The National Weather Service expects a freeze three of the next five days in Harvey County. So you may want to cover your plants.

The NWS predicts cold fronts will drop temperatures below freezing Saturday, Monday and Tuesday nights in Harvey County.

“We have a pretty strong front coming through Monday night,” National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Martin said. “We could be looking at a killing freeze Tuesday or Wednesday morning.”

He said Saturday night and into Sunday morning, temperatures could drop to the low 30s. As the week progresses, however, nighttime lows could drop into the 20s.

“We’re looking at the potential of mid- to upper-20s Wednesday morning,” he said. “Once we get past Wednesday morning, we should start to see a warming trend.”

Temperatures that low have the potential to kill some of the young garden plants that have just started to grow. Martin said, until this coming week, March and April were both tracking to be warmer than average, following a brutal February. 

He said that, on Saturday night, plants might withstand the freeze in Harvey County, with temperatures staying in the 30s and the ground radiating heat.

Still, Martin said he plans to cover some of his garden, and other gardeners might want to do the same.

“This time of the year, the temperature in the 20s is not good,” he said.

For context, the Farmers Almanac lists a freeze of 29 to 32 as damaging to tender plants. It lists a freeze of 25° to 28°F (3.9° to -2.2°C) as widely destructive to most vegetation. Anything colder would cause heavy damage to most garden plants.

The almanac does say most vegetables outside – unless you’re an extremely ambitious tomato or pepper planter – should be able to take a bit of frost.

Beets, carrots, lettuce, cauliflower and potatoes will withstand a light frost,” it states. “Cool-season crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, onions, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, turnips, and Brussels sprouts, will withstand a hard frost.”

Finally, it recommends using blankets or plastic sheeting to help cover the plants, making sure the sheeting is not laying on the plants. Covers should be secured with stakes or bricks to keep them from moving. Put them on late afternoon or early evening when the wind dies down and remove them when temperatures move above freezing the next day to allow the plants and soil to get some heat.