NewsHillsborough County


Strawberry farmers prep for freezing temperatures, impact on crop

250 farm workers at Parkesdale depend on strawberries
Posted at 12:32 PM, Dec 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-26 12:32:20-05

DOVER, Fla. — Temperatures dropping tonight means strawberry farmers are at risk of losing millions of dollars of crop.

The strawberry plants at Parkesdale Farms are in their prime and the cold weather has made the berries firm and sweet.

However, freezing temperatures can cause major damage. If temps drop down to 32 degrees the strawberries will have to be sprayed with water.

“At 32 degrees we come in and turn the irrigation on and try to make a thin layer of ice over the top of the plant to keep it warmer. Kind of like an igloo,” explained farm manager Matt Parke.

To save his 160 acres of strawberries from being destroyed, Parke and his workers started prepping on Christmas Eve.

“Tested all the sprinkler irrigation, made sure all the power units were deisealed up and had plenty of oil, just to make sure nothing was broken,” Parke said.

250 workers depend on these strawberries for their income, and Parke said he’s not taking any chances.

“I’m not going to sleep tonight, not all. I'm going to watch the temperature all night. There’s no chances taken because forecasts are educated guesses, so I'm going to make sure my crops protected at all costs,” he added.