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When Does Your Growing Season Start?

 

The following chart gives the expected date of last occurrence of a given "critical" (or lower) temperature at different probability levels for a number of long-term weather observing stations across Virginia.

A temperature reading of 32F essentially defines a "frost."  If the temperature dips to 28F or below, it's often referred to as a "freeze."  Plants which are reasonably hardy usually need a temperature this low to be seriously injured.  Especially cold-sensitive varieties should probably be kept above 36F.

To use the chart:

  • Find your location, or a station which has reasonably similar temperature characteristics to yours.

  • Decide upon the lowest temperature your plants are likely to tolerate.

  • Read across to find the days in the spring season which represents the different likelihoods of such a low temperature being reached.

For instance:  A gardener in in the Ashland area plans to grow a plant with about average sensitivity to cold temperatures.  Choosing the 32 level gives us the following information:  The average date (50% probability) of last frost (32) in the spring is April 15th.  So--when you finish up your tax return, it's a 50-50 chance there will be another frost this spring.  On April 2nd, there's still a 90% chance of having another frost.  If you're really risk-averse, wait until April 28th, and there will only be a 10% chance -- only 1 year in 10 will see a frost after that date.

This always bears repeating:  Use this information with caution, especially at higher elevations and in complex terrain!  The characteristics of your specific location can cause surprisingly wide variations in the temperature in your garden or fields! 

May your tomato plants flourish!


(This chart can also be seen and printed at:
 VA Latest Spring Frost Dates 1971-2000.pdf)

               
  STATION CRITICAL TEMPERATURE   PROBABILITY OF CRITICAL TEMPERATURE OCCURRING LATER IN THE SPRING  
    (F)   90% 50% 10%  
  ABINGDON 3 S 36   23-Apr 13-May 2-Jun  
    32   12-Apr 30-Apr 17-May  
    28   30-Mar 15-Apr 2-May  
               
  AMELIA 4 SW 36   17-Apr 30-Apr 13-May  
    32   1-Apr 17-Apr 3-May  
    28   23-Mar 7-Apr 21-Apr  
               
  APPOMATTOX 36   15-Apr 29-Apr 13-May  
    32   29-Mar 14-Apr 1-May  
    28   16-Mar 2-Apr 18-Apr  
               
  ASHLAND 36   17-Apr 30-Apr 13-May  
    32   2-Apr 15-Apr 28-Apr  
    28   23-Mar 4-Apr 16-Apr  
               
  BACK BAY WILDLIFE REFUGE 36   28-Mar 10-Apr 22-Apr  
    32   15-Mar 31-Mar 16-Apr  
    28   18-Feb 9-Mar 28-Mar  
               
  BEDFORD 36   11-Apr 27-Apr 12-May  
    32   30-Mar 11-Apr 24-Apr  
    28   17-Mar 31-Mar 14-Apr  
               
  BIG MEADOWS 36   3-May 25-May 16-Jun  
    32   25-Apr 13-May 31-May  
    28   13-Apr 29-Apr 16-May  
               
  BLACKSBURG 36   30-Apr 16-May 1-Jun  
    32   17-Apr 4-May 21-May  
    28   31-Mar 20-Apr 9-May  
               
  BREMO BLUFF 36   18-Apr 3-May 17-May  
    32   8-Apr 21-Apr 3-May  
    28   26-Mar 9-Apr 24-Apr  
               
  BROOKNEAL 36   20-Apr 3-May 16-May  
    32   5-Apr 18-Apr 30-Apr  
    28   22-Mar 4-Apr 17-Apr  
               
  BUCHANAN 36   21-Apr 5-May 19-May  
    32   7-Apr 23-Apr 10-May  
    28   24-Mar 8-Apr 22-Apr  
               
  BUENA VISTA 36   14-May 26-May 6-Jun  
    32   28-Apr 17-May 4-Jun  
    28   9-Apr 4-May 28-May  
               
  BURKES GARDEN 36   10-May 1-Jun 23-Jun  
    32   28-Apr 16-May 4-Jun  
    28   22-Apr 4-May 15-May  
               
  CHARLOTTE COURT HOUSE 36   14-Apr 2-May 19-May  
    32   1-Apr 17-Apr 3-May  
    28   17-Mar 4-Apr 22-Apr  
               
  CHARLOTTESVILLE 2 W 36   4-Apr 16-Apr 28-Apr  
    32   29-Mar 7-Apr 16-Apr  
    28   12-Mar 26-Mar 9-Apr  
               
  CHASE CITY 36   11-Apr 29-Apr 17-May  
    32   30-Mar 15-Apr 1-May  
    28   17-Mar 2-Apr 17-Apr  
               
  CHATHAM 36   25-Apr 11-May 26-May  
    32   19-Apr 1-May 13-May  
    28   29-Mar 15-Apr 2-May  
               
  COLONIAL BEACH 36   2-Apr 15-Apr 28-Apr  
    32   21-Mar 6-Apr 22-Apr  
    28   9-Mar 25-Mar 10-Apr  
               
  CORBIN 36   20-Apr 5-May 21-May  
    32   6-Apr 20-Apr 5-May  
    28   22-Mar 4-Apr 18-Apr  
               
  COVINGTON FILTER PLANT 36   30-Apr 16-May 1-Jun  
    32   20-Apr 3-May 15-May  
    28   2-Apr 15-Apr 27-Apr  
               
  DALE ENTERPRISE 36   28-Apr 12-May 26-May  
    32   18-Apr 30-Apr 12-May  
    28   2-Apr 13-Apr 24-Apr  
               
  DANVILLE 36   7-Apr 21-Apr 4-May  
    32   23-Mar 8-Apr 24-Apr  
    28   6-Mar 22-Mar 6-Apr  
               
  FARMVILLE 2 N 36   20-Apr 1-May 13-May  
    32   6-Apr 18-Apr 29-Apr  
    28   24-Mar 6-Apr 19-Apr  
               
  FLOYD 2 NE 36   5-May 24-May 11-Jun  
    32   29-Apr 16-May 2-Jun  
    28   16-Apr 1-May 15-May  
               
  GALAX RADIO WBRF 36   29-Apr 16-May 2-Jun  
    32   24-Apr 8-May 21-May  
    28   4-Apr 21-Apr 8-May  
               
  GRUNDY 36   22-Apr 5-May 19-May  
    32   8-Apr 24-Apr 10-May  
    28   26-Mar 10-Apr 24-Apr  
               
  HOLLAND 1 E 36   11-Apr 23-Apr 4-May  
    32   30-Mar 12-Apr 25-Apr  
    28   12-Mar 25-Mar 7-Apr  
               
  HOPEWELL 36   7-Apr 21-Apr 5-May  
    32   24-Mar 6-Apr 19-Apr  
    28   5-Mar 23-Mar 10-Apr  
               
  HOT SPRINGS 36   28-Apr 16-May 2-Jun  
    32   18-Apr 3-May 18-May  
    28   1-Apr 16-Apr 2-May  
               
  JOHN H KERR DAM 36   13-Apr 27-Apr 11-May  
    32   29-Mar 11-Apr 24-Apr  
    28   13-Mar 28-Mar 12-Apr  
               
  LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE 36   22-Mar 4-Apr 17-Apr  
    32   10-Mar 26-Mar 11-Apr  
    28   21-Feb 9-Mar 24-Mar  
               
  LAWRENCEVILLE 3 E 36   19-Apr 4-May 19-May  
    32   6-Apr 21-Apr 5-May  
    28   20-Mar 6-Apr 22-Apr  
               
  LEXINGTON 36   25-Apr 9-May 22-May  
    32   15-Apr 28-Apr 12-May  
    28   30-Mar 11-Apr 23-Apr  
               
  LINCOLN 36   21-Apr 3-May 16-May  
    32   5-Apr 18-Apr 1-May  
    28   24-Mar 5-Apr 18-Apr  
               
  LOUISA 36   25-Apr 9-May 24-May  
    32   11-Apr 24-Apr 7-May  
    28   28-Mar 12-Apr 28-Apr  
               
  LURAY 5 E 36   29-Apr 16-May 1-Jun  
    32   21-Apr 4-May 18-May  
    28   3-Apr 17-Apr 1-May  
               
  LYNCHBURG MUNICIPAL AP 36   15-Apr 29-Apr 12-May  
    32   27-Mar 13-Apr 29-Apr  
    28   17-Mar 1-Apr 15-Apr  
               
  MARTINSVILLE FILTER PLT 36   20-Apr 8-May 26-May  
    32   15-Apr 29-Apr 13-May  
    28   27-Mar 12-Apr 27-Apr  
               
  MATHEWS 4 SE 36   28-Mar 13-Apr 28-Apr  
    32   10-Mar 1-Apr 24-Apr  
    28   27-Feb 19-Mar 8-Apr  
               
  MOUNT WEATHER 36   16-Apr 1-May 17-May  
    32   7-Apr 22-Apr 7-May  
    28   1-Apr 12-Apr 24-Apr  
               
  NORFOLK INTL AP 36   23-Mar 6-Apr 19-Apr  
    32   3-Mar 20-Mar 7-Apr  
    28   14-Feb 4-Mar 22-Mar  
               
  PAINTER 2 W 36   8-Apr 23-Apr 7-May  
    32   28-Mar 9-Apr 20-Apr  
    28   8-Mar 24-Mar 9-Apr  
               
  PENNINGTON GAP 36   23-Apr 11-May 29-May  
    32   16-Apr 1-May 16-May  
    28   30-Mar 20-Apr 10-May  
               
  PHILPOTT DAM 2 36   16-Apr 2-May 18-May  
    32   2-Apr 17-Apr 2-May  
    28   19-Mar 2-Apr 16-Apr  
               
  PIEDMONT RESEARCH STN 36   13-Apr 27-Apr 11-May  
    32   29-Mar 14-Apr 29-Apr  
    28   22-Mar 4-Apr 17-Apr  
               
  PULASKI 36   30-Apr 19-May 6-Jun  
    32   19-Apr 6-May 22-May  
    28   2-Apr 17-Apr 2-May  
               
  RICHMOND BYRD INTL AP 36   6-Apr 21-Apr 7-May  
    32   22-Mar 6-Apr 21-Apr  
    28   11-Mar 27-Mar 11-Apr  
               
  ROANOKE WOODRUM AP 36   15-Apr 30-Apr 14-May  
    32   29-Mar 13-Apr 27-Apr  
    28   13-Mar 29-Mar 14-Apr  
               
  ROCKY MOUNT 36   14-Apr 30-Apr 17-May  
    32   3-Apr 20-Apr 6-May  
    28   16-Mar 2-Apr 19-Apr  
               
  SALTVILLE 1 N 36   23-Apr 17-May 10-Jun  
    32   16-Apr 6-May 25-May  
    28   27-Mar 22-Apr 19-May  
               
  STAFFORDSVILLE 3 ENE 36   28-Apr 16-May 2-Jun  
    32   19-Apr 2-May 16-May  
    28   29-Mar 18-Apr 9-May  
               
  STAUNTON SEWAGE PLANT 36   24-Apr 12-May 31-May  
    32   12-Apr 30-Apr 18-May  
    28   5-Apr 19-Apr 4-May  
               
  STONY CREEK 1 E 36   9-Apr 25-Apr 12-May  
    32   28-Mar 14-Apr 1-May  
    28   16-Mar 31-Mar 16-Apr  
               
  STUART 36   15-Apr 29-Apr 14-May  
    32   1-Apr 18-Apr 6-May  
    28   14-Mar 31-Mar 18-Apr  
               
  SUFFOLK LAKE KILBY 36   29-Mar 11-Apr 24-Apr  
    32   14-Mar 30-Mar 16-Apr  
    28   25-Feb 15-Mar 1-Apr  
               
  TANGIER ISLAND 36   21-Mar 4-Apr 17-Apr  
    32   8-Mar 22-Mar 5-Apr  
    28   24-Feb 11-Mar 25-Mar  
               
  TYE RIVER 1 SE 36   18-Apr 1-May 14-May  
    32   3-Apr 16-Apr 28-Apr  
    28   18-Mar 2-Apr 16-Apr  
               
  VIENNA 36   12-Apr 27-Apr 12-May  
    32   30-Mar 10-Apr 22-Apr  
    28   17-Mar 31-Mar 14-Apr  
               
  WALKERTON 2 NW 36   20-Apr 1-May 13-May  
    32   5-Apr 16-Apr 27-Apr  
    28   22-Mar 5-Apr 18-Apr  
               
  WARRENTON 3 SE 36   13-Apr 30-Apr 17-May  
    32   30-Mar 13-Apr 28-Apr  
    28   21-Mar 3-Apr 16-Apr  
               
  WARSAW 2 NW 36   12-Apr 25-Apr 7-May  
    32   28-Mar 11-Apr 25-Apr  
    28   18-Mar 2-Apr 16-Apr  
               
  WASHINGTON DULLES INTL 36   24-Apr 7-May 21-May  
    32   6-Apr 23-Apr 9-May  
    28   26-Mar 7-Apr 20-Apr  
               
  WASHINGTON REAGAN NTL 36   29-Mar 9-Apr 20-Apr  
    32   17-Mar 29-Mar 10-Apr  
    28   2-Mar 16-Mar 30-Mar  
               
  WEST POINT 2 NW 36   13-Apr 26-Apr 8-May  
    32   31-Mar 11-Apr 22-Apr  
    28   20-Mar 2-Apr 15-Apr  
               
  WILLIAMSBURG 2 N 36   9-Apr 23-Apr 7-May  
    32   27-Mar 10-Apr 25-Apr  
    28   11-Mar 28-Mar 14-Apr  
               
  WINCHESTER 7 SE 36   28-Apr 12-May 27-May  
    32   16-Apr 29-Apr 13-May  
    28   1-Apr 12-Apr 23-Apr  
               
  WISE 3 E 36   20-Apr 8-May 26-May  
    32   12-Apr 29-Apr 16-May  
    28   26-Mar 10-Apr 25-Apr  
               
  WOODSTOCK 2 NE 36   27-Apr 8-May 19-May  
    32   13-Apr 28-Apr 13-May  
    28   28-Mar 11-Apr 25-Apr  
               
  WYTHEVILLE 1 S 36   3-May 21-May 8-Jun  
    32   23-Apr 9-May 24-May  
    28   6-Apr 26-Apr 15-May  
               

 

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