Area to experience freezing temperatures

Portales and Clovis residents are advised to button up and stay warm tonight, as the area is expected to experience a temperature low of 31 degrees, according to Senior Meteorologist, Dave Samuhel.

"Expect below freezing temperatures Thursday and Friday with a low of 31 degrees Thursday and 29 degrees Friday," Samuhel said.

Samuhel said this year's freeze is consistent in arrival with previous years.

"This is right around normal for a first freeze but you did have a morning dip to 30 degrees on Oct. 8.," Samuhel said. "On average, middle to late October is when you get that first freeze."

Although Samuhel said while the freeze will be harsh to plants and crops, he wouldn't classify it as a hard freeze.

Tony Bullocks: CNJ staff photo

Howard Duncan of Texico moves his geraniums into a van that he turned into a greenhouse on North Griffin Street in preparation for a cold front expected to hit the area.

"You need it to be at least 27 degrees to be a hard freeze," Samuhel said.

He added that temperatures below 27 degrees cause damage to sensitive plants, especially if the freeze occurs for more than a few hours.

Portales florist and owner of Butterfly Floral Aileen McAlister reminds gardeners the only remedy to protect plants is bring them inside.

"If you want to keep them any longer, they need to be brought inside," McAlister said.

She said if people don't get a chance to bring their plants in, she advised covering plants with plastic or a blanket.

Curry County farmer Don Wiley said he feels this freeze is later than usual.

"Our average first freeze is the 17th of October," Wiley said. "This is good timing, I'm buttoning up my greenhouse for the winter."

Wiley says there is not much farmers can do to brave the freeze.

"All my outside crops will be wiped out and that's the way it is," Wiley, who grows tomatoes, lettuce and spinach, said. "It happens every year. My peppers in the greenhouse will make it to Thanksgiving."

Wiley said people in the agricultural field are working on ways to prevent crops from dying out during hard freezes but he plans on rejecting them.

"It involves genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and I don't like it," Wiley said. "I will not grow them."

Roosevelt County farmer Carlos Paiz agrees with Wiley that farmers' crops rarely prevail this time of year.

"There's not much we can do," Paiz said. "Most of the crops are already matured. Most of the farmers are ready to accept the freeze; I am."

Paiz said the only crop the freeze helps is cotton.

"A freeze would be beneficial because it will burn the leaves," Paiz said. "It's called defoliation."

Roosevelt County Agricultural Extension agent Patrick Kircher said animals should handle the weather just fine and he expects crops to be finished.

"The frost earlier this month kind of burnt a few things but this one will be cold enough to do it," Kircher said. "The drought has been hard on us. There is not much anything else out there. This will wrap up 2012."

Kircher reminds people this time of year provides a good opportunity to get outdoor stuff, such as outside water lines and boats, winterized.

"It's a good reminder winter is coming," Kircher said.

According to Samuhel, after the cold front, next week will be relatively warmer with lows in the 70s by next Monday and Tuesday.

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