Strawberry farmers use ice to protect crops from cold

- As outdoor temperatures drop even more, Florida strawberry farmers are working to protect their livelihood.

For Matt Parke, saving his strawberries from frigid temps also means saving the more than 60 years of hard work his family has put into the farm.

“I've got everything I have invested in these crops,” said farmer Matt Parke.

His company, Parkesdale Farms has seen its fair share of freezes over the years, but Parke says this is one of the harshest in recent memory.

“Anything below 32 I worry it could be a blink of the eye I lose one of my power units and we've lost our year and maybe it's the end of my farm,” said Parke.

Parke explains his farm of more than 140 acres produces upwards of half a million strawberries each year, which is why making sure his crop survives the winter weather is so important. So he and his crew water the berries creating a frozen layer to help them handle the cold.

“When you put a blanket of ice over the top of your plants it keeps it above 32 degrees Fahrenheit underneath the ice,” he said.

Parke says Florida is one of the nation's largest producers of strawberries, especially during colder months.

“During the winter we produce more than anywhere else in the world,” said Parke.

It's why strawberry farmers across the area are caring for their crops, including in Wimauma where they're gearing up for yet another night of temperatures flirting with freezing.

Parke says at his farm the crop is still doing well and while some loss is expected, he says the impact on the prices consumers see should remain unnoticed.

“It's right at a good spot right now I don't think it's going to affect anything,” he said.

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