(17/P23) TRENTON – With the state expected to experience more freezing temperatures tonight and Thursday night, the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Agriculture will again allow farmers to do controlled open burning or use specialized torches known as smudge pots to protect flowering crops from damage.
The two agencies previously authorized precautionary and voluntary use of smudge pots on March 10 due to below-freezing temperatures forecast through that weekend.
Temperatures are expected to drop to the low 20s tonight and Thursday night through most of the state. The expected freeze follows unusually warm temperatures in recent weeks that coaxed some economically important fruit tree crops to bud much earlier than normal.
Peach, blueberry and apple crops are particularly susceptible. Damage from freezing weather now can significantly reduce yields of these crops later in the season. There are concerns in particular about early varieties of peaches that are at a stage where buds are about to flower. [Read more…]