George County nursery owners protect buds, blooms from bitter cold

By Patrice Clark – bio | email

GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It's a big enough job to protect the plants at your home or business, but imagine if plants are your business.  For nursery owners in George County, it's been a race to protect their crops from sleet and snow before nightfall. They hope this winter blast doesn't ruin their livelihood.

News of wintry weather in George County wasn't the forecast Camilla Nursery Owner Kyle McCaskey wanted to hear.

"Snow is not going to benefit us whatsoever," McCaskey said.

McCaskey said too much ice and cold from Mother Nature could kill his crops and tear down his shade houses. That's why his work crew spent the day taking down plants covers and protecting buds and blooms. McCaskey admits all this preparation is a headache and a hurt to his pockets.

"It's very tedious and very aggravating, especially what we are doing today, because it does nothing but cost us money."

Ole Grady's Nursery is also spending a lot of money and time shielding its crop with new protective gear.

"The material they have now you can leave on the plants whether it is raining, sun shining," owner Amy Hyatt said.

Keeping heat running through the plastic greenhouses is also important.

"If the sleet or snow gets on top of the plastic, it can cave in the plastic."

Ole Grady employees know the importance of preparing for the worst, but they had to learn the hard way. Back in the 80s, when the nursery first opened, they say they lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment and crops.

"It was in March that we had a real heavy snow in the south and it caved the largest greenhouse," Hyatt said.

These growers are now on alert to make sure the icy conditions won't freeze what they've worked so hard to grow.

"It is our livelihood," Baylon Hyatt said. "It is how we pay our bills. It is how we feed our families."

Nursery owners said a large number of their plants can stand the cold because they are cold hardy.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved