By Clint Thompson
Florida’s strawberry crop could be damaged by the sub-freezing temperatures in the forecast for this weekend.
Matt Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida, discusses the scenario he and other producers are facing with potential temperatures in the 20s scheduled for Friday night and Saturday night.
“We’re going to be running water, but it’s definitely going to slow us down for about 10 days. Volume is going to fall off pretty good,” Parke said. “If we don’t get any damage, we’ll be all right. Hopefully, the wind will be calm, and we can get some good coverage with our water. Otherwise, we’ll potentially see some damage.”
According to weather.com, temperatures are forecasted to drop to 29 degrees Fahrenheit Friday and Saturday nights in Plant City, Florida. Parke described what potential damage would look like.
Potential Damage Symptoms
“Loss of flower, damaged fruit, burnt tops on tops of plants. They’re a winter crop for us, so they’re hardy to the winter, but the fruit’s not and the flower is not,” Parke said. “Let’s just say we had a (irrigation) pump to go down, we’d lose everything on top of the plastic. The plant wouldn’t die, but all of the leaves would go. It would take us a month or longer to get the plant back to producing again.
“Typically, when we have a freeze event, we’ll see 29 or 28 for a couple of hours, but if they’re calling for the temperature we’re going to see is below 30 and for possibly 10 hours, that’s not good no matter how you swing it. When we get down to those low-to-mid 20s for five or six hours at a time, you’re always going to have some damage, but it’ll be minimal. When we get down to the upper 20s for maybe a couple of hours, you’re not going to see any damage. It’s when it’s that consecutive cold in the mid-20s, we’re going to have some damage, but hopefully, it’s not that bad.”