(Does this guy look worried about the frost? A smokin’ vegetable vendor in a Petach Tikva market, Israel. Credit anyalogic)
While North Americans in the higher latitudes are sipping hot cocoa, and have Jack Frost nipping at their noses, farmers in the Middle East pray that the frost won’t come. Last year, sub-zero temperatures wiped out millions of dollars worth of crops in the region, causing basics like lemons to cost a fortune in the supermarket.
Farmers so far, reports The Jordan Times, are in the clear from frost. Although temperatures dipped to sub-zero this week night as a cold and dry air mass overwhelmed the region, Jordan’s Agriculture Ministry officials said no reports on crop damage were received.
The officials, however, renewed a call on farmers to take precautionary measures against frost formation to avoid vast crop damages similar to what happened early last year when over 15,000 dunums of vegetables were damaged in Jordan alone.
In cold times, farmers are urged to irrigate their crops during the night as it helps raise the temperature by five degrees, preventing damage to plant roots.
Farmers growing protected crops should close down their greenhouses early in the afternoon to store as much heat as possible and use heaters to warm up the atmosphere.
Crops like tomatoes, potatoes, zucchinis and grains are most susceptible to the effects of frost.
With the arrival of the marbaniyeh, the coldest forty days of winter which began in late December, several depressions and frost spells are expected to affect the Kingdom until the end of January, reports the newspaper.
The Kingdom receives 25 to 35% of its rainfall during this time, but agriculture and water officials say the country received so far only 10 per cent of the long-term annual average of 8.5 billion cubic metres.