Jeff Ray

From left are Johnson County Master Gardener President Paul Murphy, Johnson County Extension Agent Justin Taylor Hale and CBS Meteorologist Jeff Ray.

Jeff Ray, CBS 11 meteorologist, spoke at Monday’s Johnson County Master Gardeners meeting. He spoke about Texas’ changing weather patterns and how it relates to gardening. He said DFW has kept weather records for the past 123 years. 

In reviewing our 20 warmest winters, eight occurred since the year 2000. As a result, while temperatures are getting warmer, our growing season is getting longer. He noted in 2017, we had our earliest last freeze ever on Jan. 8. 

To take advantage of warmer winters, he recommends planting a few crops earlier than normally recommended, as long as you are prepared to use frost cloth as needed ... which works as long as the temperature doesn’t get below 28 degrees. 

Ray said the top three warmest springs on record happened in the last 15 years and of the 20 warmest springs on record at DFW, 10 occurred since 2000.

He said summers are getting hotter and summer nights are getting warmer (more nights above 80 degrees). The high temperatures are hard on our plants so in summertime he recommends watering plants at end of day, rather than in the morning to help cool plants down and relieve heat stress. 

He pointed out 2011 was the hottest summer on record at DFW with 71 days of 100 degrees. Of our 20 warmest summers, eight have occurred since 2000. He suggests using shade cloth after 3 p.m. on plants located in full during our hottest weather and suggests drip irrigation to combat summer heat. 

Ray said Texas’ average fall temperature is warmer and of the top 10 warmest falls on record, five of the top six occurred in the last 16 years. 

Ray said we are seeing bigger rain events so he recommends using raised beds when possible to keep plants from drowning. 

He said extreme weather events are getting more common with both drought and wet patterns more extreme. Our five top warmest years on record were, in order, 2017, 2006, 2012, 2016 and 2008. 

Ray enjoys gardening and shared photos of his backyard garden. He was a personable and fascinating speaker and our group much enjoyed his presentation and our chance to interact with him. 

Rory Niewenhous, Cleburne Railroaders marketing manager, attended the presentation and gave Ray some Railroader souvenirs.

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