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Freeze tonight has local vineyards worried about vines just starting to grow

Updated: Apr. 20, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Tonight’s potential for a freeze has some local vineyard owners concerned about the crop, hoping the crops don’t freeze because it damages the crop for a whole year.

One vineyard owner, Steve Newsom of English Newsom Cellars, says across all his properties, February’s winter storm already delayed the growth of most of his crop by a couple of weeks.

Newsom pointed to small buds on a merlot vine, explaining that trying to save the crop with the Agrofrost machine is his only hope, saying there are other ways to fight frost but the Agrofrost machine is very convenient. It delays the growth of the grape so the frost doesn’t kill it.

“Because really our challenge here to grow grapes are spring freezes.”

It produces a temperature change on the vineyard to save the vines ahead of a freeze, snapping the frost cycle for a little bit of time by hitting the vines with hot air.

" It pumps out 180 degree air across the vineyard every eight and a half minutes and this one crosses 2 and a half acres with this unit right here.”

Newsom says February’s winter storm could have one benefit ahead of this particular freeze tonight, explaining at least in this lane of merlot vines, there isn’t much to kill..

“We don’t know the extent of whether there is damage in quality. We don’t know if we are going to be fine in the end. It’s a little too early to tell,” Newsom said of the freeze.

Across all of his properties, he grows enough grapes to produce 30,000 cases of wine.

Some of those varietals- such as a Riesling-he says, are much more vulnerable since they have grown much for than his merlot vines as an example.

“We have the capability of protecting 80 percent of our acres with frost protection”

Steve said this spring was on a good track to produce a good quality grape. He’s hoping that temps do not fall below 26 because at that point, he says the machines will not do much.

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