Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Data Harvesting

With visions of plenty, Los Alamos is helping farmers in Northern New Mexico use science to improve their strategy against damaging frosts.
February 1, 2019
M&M’S

Los Alamos hydrologist Kurt Solander consults with farmer Chistopher Bassett at Bassett’s family farm, Freshies of New Mexico. Solander and colleagues have been working with Bassett for the last three years to help him optimize the heating strategy in his greenhouses.

When the trees are flowering, a 24-degree night results in 90 percent loss.

Plants need cold weather; it is part of their annual cycle of dormancy, growth, and fruiting. Too many warm days during the winter months might encourage a plant to bud early, and when the frosts return in late spring—as they always do—the buds can freeze and fail to produce fruit. Frost damage can be devastating for farmers whose livelihoods depend on the harvest. In an effort to help farmers facing this annual challenge, Los Alamos and the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program have stepped in to help NM farmers mitigate frost damage by making informed decisions based on each farm’s unique microclimate about how and when to protect their crops.

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