Florida strawberry farm says hard work paid off during hard freeze

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Strawberry farmer Jeff Casey is counting his blessings one strawberry at a time. Especially after temperatures dipped into the 20’s for the second set of consecutive days at the beginning of this month

"My wife has a saying this year: Farming is gambling against mother nature and mother nature never loses," Casey said.

But Casey's job is making sure the odds are at least even. He does that by keeping sprinklers running when it gets below 30 degrees to coat the strawberries with a protective layer of wet ice that stays at a safe 32 degrees. 

Thanks to the sprinklers, Casey says JG Ranch was able to protect nearly their entire crop from the freeze. But he says the strawberries they did lose, were also the fault of the sprinklers. 

"When you add water it causes one problem but prevents another," he said

Casey says “Anthrac and Botrytis” are diseases caused when conditions are too wet. He says they spray for the diseases, but its better to have that, than a plant killed from the freeze.

He says the overall damage from the cold hurt 20 percent of their crop but only for a couple of weeks. 

"We’ll lose production for maybe a week and a half at the most, but that’s a normal dip in production anyway. And we’ll be ramping up production all the way through to the strawberry festivals," Casey said.

JG Ranch is open for the public to pick strawberries Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9-4 p.m. They're located at 17200 Wiscon Rd. Brookville, FL 34601.

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