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NWS: Frost possible in region over coming days

Those who took advantage of the warm Memorial Day weekend to get plants or flowers in the ground might regret that move.

The National Weather Service forecast for overnight and Saturday night into early Sunday calls for the possibility of frost in the region.

Temperatures in the Iron Mountain area are expected to fall as low as 40 degrees tonight, with patchy frost possible after 1 a.m. Saturday morning, the NWS stated.

Such temperatures may pose a danger to local fruit and vegetable plants, said Scott Reuss, agriculture and horticulture agent with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension office serving Marinette and Oconto counties.

But it will depend on just how cold it gets, which can vary.

“Unfortunately, it’s extremely unpredictable,” Reuss said.

“The damage will be determined by the actual temperature, how long it stays at that temperature and what stage of maturity your plants are at,” Reuss said.

Although Reuss thinks native and ornamental plants would survive the predicted lows, he worried about vegetable plants such as peppers and eggplants and herbs like basil.

“Tomatoes will be next in line,” Reuss said, noting the fruit could generally survive temperatures as low as 33 degrees.

For protection, Reuss suggested covering plants with blankets, sheets or tarpaulins, taking care to keep the coverings from touching the plant.

“That will give you three to five degrees of protection,” Reuss said.

Most of the damage may be done to fruit trees, Reuss said, adding many were in or nearing bloom in the area.

“The big problem with fruit trees, from a homeowner’s perspective, is they are hard to protect,” Reuss said. He recommended people looking to protect their fruit trees wake up at 4 a.m. to spray the trees down with water.

“Anything that is in or near bloom stage is going to face some level of damage at least, but it’ll probably be mostly flowers,” Reuss said. “We don’t get foliage damage until we get down longer.”

But, Reuss stressed again, the effects of such temperatures are unpredictable.

“Plants do have the ability to get past more damage than we think,” Reuss said. “On the other end of the spectrum, there are some plants that get the wrong temperature on the wrong day and can show damage the rest of the year.”

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