Oklahoma Farmers Battle Cold Snap

Sunday, April 8th 2007, 3:52 pm

By: News On 6

It was a weird week in weather! Snow was falling across eastern Oklahoma on Thursday, just three days after highs near 90. This roller coaster ride has taken its toll on Oklahoma vegetation, and farmers are going to extreme measures to protect their crop. The News On 6’ s Brakhage reports helicopters took to the skies this weekend to scare away the frost. But most eastern Oklahoma green thumbs just used some down to earth solutions.

Gardening expert Charlie Cohlmia is taking a peek beneath the blankets to check on the victims of Sunday's record lows.

"If you notice, this has got that freeze damage. That leaf is going to die in here, so all you have to do is prune it off like I just did," he said.

Charlie expects that the world-famous azaleas in Muskogee fared pretty well this weekend also.

"They'll get a little tiny bit of damage, but I would count on having a good show in Muskogee," he said.

In Porter, Livesay Orchards were planning on a bumper crop come peach festival time in July, until word spread of this late freeze. So they called in reinforcements from the air.

"We're trying to pull some warm air down, and uh, trying to keep the frost from settling on these peaches," helicopter pilot Mark DeLozier said.

If it gets cold enough, quick enough, freeze damage can happen in a hurry. That's why a helicopter buzzed the trees in the orchard for hours as temperatures dipped the lowest. They hope warm downdrafts from the rotors will prevent any major crop damage.

As for the home gardener, Charlie is full of advice.

"What I like to do is either get a good book or a nice TV program, something good to eat and relax because there's really not a lot you can do about Mother Nature," Cohlmia said.

Expert tips from an experienced gardener.

The peach orchards were really worried about this freeze. The magic number was 28 degrees, anything colder than that could wipe out most of the crop. News On 6 meteorologist Dick Faurot says it got down to 26 in Porter Sunday morning, but the good news, the temperature on the ground, under where the helicopters were flying, was 30 degrees.

Related stories:

4/6/2007 Mother Nature Threatens Peach Crop

4/7/2007 Azalea Festival Could Be Hurt By Cold Weather

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