Cold temperatures can damage or destroy your tomato plants. Protecting tomatoes from frost and freezing is important to having healthy crop – both at the beginning of the season and at the end.
The best step you can take to protect tomato plants from frost is to pay attention to the weather forecast. When you hear a frost or freeze warning, take appropriate steps to protect your plants.
A freeze occurs when the temperature dips below 32ºF (0ºC). Usually a freeze affects an entire region and may last several days.
Temperatures associated with a freeze are lower than temperatures associated with a frost.
Surprisingly, tomatoes can survive a light freeze if it is not accompanied by frost, provided temperatures don’t dip below 28-30ºF.
A frost, on the other hand, is localized. Low temperatures may or may not reach freezing, but moisture must be in the picture for frost to develop.
A frost typically falls overnight but during the following day, temperatures warm. Tomato plants cannot survive frost.
Certain conditions allow frost to develop.
1. First are clear skies and calm winds, which allow crystalsr to accumulate.
2. Heat radiates from the soil, leading surfaces to get colder.
3. Moisture comes into contact with soil and plant surfaces.
4. Moisture crystallizes on the tomato plant, destroying the plant cells when it melts. When damage is severe, the plant dies.
In very dry, cold weather, it’s temperatures (not frost) that can damage plants. Cold temps darken leaves and stems. That’s why the condition is called “black frost.”
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