Strawberry farmers brace for berry-killing cold

Image 1 of 3

Strawberry growers around Plant City are preparing for a possible one-two punch from mother nature.

The last cold snap slowed down the berry crop and farmers say this one could kill it.

"We're very much concerned," says grower Carl Grooms, "If we lose any portion of the product, that's money out of our pocket."

They had hoped at least some of the berries would have been picked by now, but cold weather in early January slowed down their growth, leaving them vulnerable to the farmers' worst fear.

"They'll be dead. There won't any fruit in four weeks. It's never a hundred percent, but it will certainly hurt," says grower John Sizemore.

Ironically the farmers' main protection from cold is a layer of ice created when they water the plants in cold weather.

The ice insulates the berries and actually creates energy that holds the temperature around them up.

That saved them a couple of weeks ago, but they worry that wind may be a factor tonight. Grooms says wind can blow water from the sprayers across the field making the distribution on the plants uneven exposing parts of the vines and berries.

Citrus growers are watching the weather closely too. Andrew Meadows of Florida Citrus Mutual says a four-hour duration of temperatures 28 degrees or below can damage trees.