First hard frost of the season means end of local harvest for many crops

The crops in the fields may not survive a hard frost, but plants like mums, asters, and pumpkins can survive a bit longer.

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Warm days lead to cold nights this time of year.

“We figure if we make it to Columbus Day, that’s a good season,” said John Burney of Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow.

A cornucopia of pumpkins, gourds, acorn squash and butternut squash at Meadowbrook Farm‘s stand in East Longmeadow meant one thing: The harvest, for the most part, is over. The first hard frost of the season Monday night killed “soft crops” there. 22News was there as Burney inspected the damage to his peppers, tomatoes and some squash Tuesday morning.

“Actually, it’s been a bonus the last several years. The falls have been getting nicer. We used to have to figure about the end of September, so I would say the season’s getting extended a good 10 days to two weeks over the last several years,” Burney told 22News.

The crops in the fields may not survive a hard frost, but plants like mums, asters, and pumpkins can survive a bit longer. If a cold night is expected, farmers will cover all of those plants with cloths.

An end to the harvest for a particular crop means an end to getting it from local sources at the market. One woman, Karen Shugrue of West Springfield, was stocking up on local squash while it lasted. “I think it’s quite important. You want to support local businesses. Get a fresher product,” Shugrue told 22News.

Several local crops are still being harvested and will still be available at the market. And your plants at home could last for weeks, as long as you protect them from the cold nights -which are becoming much more common.