Strawberry Farmer Testimonial: Hurricane Idalia Impact Not as Bad as Planting Season Looms

Jim Rogers Florida, Strawberry

By Clint Thompson

Matt Parke’s anxiousness paid off this summer in preparing for the upcoming strawberry planting season. Instead of waiting to apply plastic, the farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida, decided to apply it early.

Hurricane Idalia

Since that part of the state avoided the brunt of Hurricane Idalia last week, the move paid off and all the plastic is already in place.

Matt Parke

“I’m a little anxious,” Parke said. “I prefer to get it done and not be rushed when my berries get here for planting.

“The storm passed through, and it wasn’t as bad. We got some rain, a little bit of wind, no real damage. The next day after the storm passed, we ended up getting probably four inches of water. They got more damage that day from anything than we did when the storm passed by.

“We’re saturated. Ditching is important right now, trying to drain these fields off.”

Not every grower is as fortunate with already being done laying their plastic. Parke said some just started Monday amid the current saturated conditions. They need dry weather to finish in order to be ready once planting season commences which is just a couple of weeks away.

“A lot of these people are still laying their plastic. Hopefully, we can stay out of the weather until they get their plastic down and situated. That way it’s not too wet where they can’t get out there and work the ground,” Parke said. “My fields are drying out real good. I’m glad we got that rain. I’ve got a new field that I have been working on. I didn’t know how the water was going to run in it or where it was going to exit at. That rain helped me out here. Once I got that ditch figured out, it’s good out here. All the rest of my fields, I knew how to ditch them right. They’re dry. I think we’ll be all right.”

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