George Co. nursery owners protect blooms from bitter cold

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Nursery owners in George County are bracing for colder weather this week. Plant growers spent Tuesday covering and protecting thousands of buds and blooms from frigid temperatures.

Doug Byrd is turning up the heat in his greenhouses to keep an array of colorful bedding plants warm and growing. As the owner of Coach's Cedar Creek Farms, he knows chilly temperatures can do major damage to any crop.

"We are trying to avoid disaster," Byrd said.

Nursery employees are working non-stop spraying and monitoring blooms, and securing plastic on the warm houses.  Byrd said past storms and cold spells have taught him an important lesson on how to prepare for the worst.

"Through hard experience we have learned you need the right equipment, and the right heaters, and the right stuff to do what you need to do," Byrd said.

Taking care of plants during a cold snap can be costly. Byrd is expecting to subtract almost ten percent out of his operating budget. And that's a deduction he does not need in this tight economy.

"It puts our work schedule behind. We are spending more money on facilities, and it is really a draw on what we are doing," Byrd said.

Down the road, Rocky Creek Nursery's preps are simpler.  Plant growers are using a few thick white covers to shield their buds from the bitter cold.

"It keeps the wind off of them and, surprisingly, keeps the root balls from freezing," Owner Jeff Howell said about the tool used to protect his crop. "Fortunately, a lot of plants we grow can withstand an awful a lot of cold weather."

Nursery owners will continue keeping a close eye on the forecast because they can't afford to lose their money makers.

"They [plants] are our sole means of income, so we are going to do all we can to protect them."

Coach's Nursery said it has not been able to receive new plants because the cold weather has delayed shipments from overseas.

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