Here in the Upper Midwest it’s been hovering right around 0 for almost a week now.

Spring isn’t too far away, but then there are those cold snaps that take us from seasonable conditions right back to chilly weather.

For most of us, it’s more frustrating than challenging, but for growers, frost damage to crops is a big problem.

It can ruin part or even all of a crop if the freeze comes after plants have started to put out buds.

Growers can take some precautions, but they can be time consuming and expensive.

A team at Washington State University has developed a new coating that could keep plants from freezing before they’ve even had a chance to grow.


This cellulose nanocrystal coating can be sprayed onto the buds of flowering fruit crops like grapes and cherries to insulate them.

The buds become more cold-hardy by 2°-4°C.

That can be enough to get the buds through those spring freezes and on to the rest of the growing season, which is good news for fruit growers and, of course, everyone who eats fruit.

Cold in the spring can be bad for fruit growers, but it’s par for the course for scientists in Antarctica.

That’s where a meteorologist called Paul Grisham worked for a year in 1967, only when he came back to California, he accidentally left his wallet behind.

Not too long ago a worker at McMurdo Station found Grisham’s wallet behind a locker while a building there was being torn down.

The 91 year old got the wallet back along with its contents, which included his Navy ID and driver’s license from 53 years ago, and a recipe for homemade Kahlua.

You never know when he might need that stuff!

Cellulose nanocrystals insulate crops against frost damage (Washington State University)

San Diego man reunited with wallet lost in Antarctica 53 years ago (San Diego Union Tribune)

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Grapes photo by Stefano Lubiana via Flickr/Creative Commons