GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Many plants are now suffering from the frigid temperatures brought on by the winter storm, and nurseries in South Mississippi are working hard to make sure they don’t let their own greenery fall victim to the winter weather as well.
A symphony of sprinkler heads tick in rhythm, watering plants at Coach’s Cedar Creek Farm in George County, the same type of irrigation system that owner Doug Byrd said he learned about over 30 years ago.
“Experience is pretty much everything because I learned this the hard way in the freeze of ’89,” Byrd said. “Mr. Vernon Howell taught me, after I lost everything in the freeze, how he did it by running water at night without a heater in the house.”
During a hard freeze, the water is actually warmer than the outside air. Byrd said he must constantly water the plants to help keep the greenery from freezing, but it’s not easy work.
“The houses without any heaters, we run water. So we have to make sure all the pumps are covered. We got power, thank goodness for Singing River Electric keeping this power running during the cold,” Byrd said. “You run your water 15 minutes an hour in those houses all night. It’s some long nights involved because we’re up all night long.”
To work around the clock in frigid temperatures, Byrd said it takes a team effort.
“A lot of our guys have been here 15-20 years, so they’re pretty much on their game. All we have to do is say we got to do this or that and it can be done,” Byrd said. “You don’t do it an hour or six hours. It takes a day or two.”
Even with over 40 years of experience, when a hard freeze hits, Byrd realizes he may still lose a few of his plants.
“Where we had like one crack by one of the greenhouses, we probably lost 200-300 trays,” Byrd said. “That’s several thousand dollars, but in the scheme of all of it, we were real lucky.”
For people with plants at their homes, nurseries recommend bringing smaller plants inside, and for plants you can’t move, cover them with blankets.