HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - The incoming winter weather over the weekend has South Florida farmers preparing for the worst.
The drastic drop in temperatures is leading to South Florida farmers making preparations to keep crops alive.
The farmers who run Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead said they are prepared to protect their crops, Friday.
“We hope it’s not that cold,” said farmer Herb Grafe with Knaus Berry Farm.
“Mother Nature needs to chill out here,” said farmer John Alger with Alger Farms.
Farmers said they hope the temperatures don’t dip below freezing.
“The last freeze was in 2010, and we lost a lot of acres, a lot of money,” said Alger.
Alger was referring to the sweet corn, snap beans and landscape material planted on his 2,000-acre farm.
The large irrigation system is slowly watering each crop row by row.
“It has a way to seal the soil up, but we’re trying to get some heat in the ground,” said Alger.
Grafe said he set up irrigation pipes to cover the fruits with water in order to keep them warm during the low temperatures.
“As soon as we start building ice, we’ll go ahead and start the water,” said Grafe. “We’ll let it run until the ice melts off.”
He said crops like strawberries and tomatoes could easily be ruined.
“Strawberries are real soft; they just can’t take the water,” said Grafe. “It’s very detrimental to them. If it gets too cold and you don’t start the water, the actual berry inside the white little bloom will turn black.”
How much money the farm makes will be affected by the winter weather.
“If you have to water tomatoes too much, they’ll soak up so much water quicker that they’ll go ahead and split, so therefore you can’t sell them,” said Grafe. “We have less product to sell, the quality of the product is not as good, so we don’t sell it. It really affects us if we have to water.”
Florists at Jeny Sod & Nursery in South Miami-Dade will begin covering potted plants on Saturday.
“Cover them with blankets, and then the smaller ones, orchids and stuff, we will be putting them in our office, cover them with blankets or tarp,” said Alexandra Tan with Jeny Sod & Nursery.
Tan advised people with outdoor plants to do the same ahead of time.
As for farmers like Grafe, they said all they can do is hope for the best.
“Sometimes it’s beneficial, and sometimes you just have to put up with it,” he said.
“Once it starts to happen, it is what it is,” said Alger.
Alger said he will check his crops on Monday. If the corn is brown or black, he will be unable to sell it.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is urging farmers to keep track of any losses.
On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had a message for farmers across the state.
“We’ve been supportive and will continue to do that,” he said.
Farmers in Homestead spent Friday watering their crops but stopped in the afternoon. They resumed watering at 4 a.m. on Saturday.
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