WATERVILLE – Temperatures on Tuesday are expected to reach 70 degrees for the first time in nearly seven months, according to meteorologists.

Augusta recorded a temperature of 72 degrees on Oct. 6, and although highs since then have been in the upper 60s, they haven’t reached 70 degrees, said Chris Legro of the National Weather Service in Gray.

“It would be the warmest reading so far this year,” he said.

Legro said the temperature reached 69 in Augusta on April 19 and 68 on Sunday. Temperatures in Waterville and the surrounding area have been similar, although the National Weather Service keeps daily readings only for Augusta, Gray and Portland, he said.

The temperature is expected to remain cool at night, said Legro. It would also not be unusual to see daytime highs only in the 50s in May, he said.

Gardeners and farmers in the area are among those excited about the warm weather, although fire officials also are warning of the risks that dry, warm weather can cause.

At Johnny’s Selected Seeds fields in Albion, workers already have planted peas and were putting in an experimental crop of corn, which usually is planted later in the year, into the ground on Monday.

“It’s been unusually cold and cloudy up until this last week, when we’ve noticed it starting to warm up,” said Steve Bellavia, a vegetable researcher.

Intrepid gardeners should remain cautious even as the weather begins to warm, though, said Tom Goodspeed, horticultural coordinator at the Somerset County Cooperative Extension in Skowhegan.

Goodspeed said that while now is a good time to plant cold-weather crops, bulbs and trees, he would be cautious with warm-weather crops and perennials.

“It takes the soil longer to warm up, and the ground can still be cold on a 70-degree day,” he said.

Cold-weather crops such as peas, spinach, Swiss chard and cabbage can be planted, as can bulb flowers and trees, Goodspeed said. Warm-weather crops such as cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are better off planted in mid-May or later, when the risk of frost is over, he said.

In the meantime, the warmer weather predicted for the week may be cause to begin watering plants that are in the ground, Goodspeed said.

“With the warm spell that is predicted, I think we may need to start watering by the end of the week,” he said. Rainfall this month has been slightly less than last year, but there is still some moisture in the soil, especially in denser, claylike soils, from the winter, Goodspeed said.

Legro said this spring has been ideal so far because the temperature has gotten warmer steadily every day, causing snow to melt gradually, minimizing the chance of flooding.

 

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

rohm@mainetoday.com