South Florida:

Florida farmers managed to save their crops

Last Friday growers all over Florida were up early to see if temperatures would dip low enough to harm their vegetables on the final, chilliest night of South Florida’s cold snap. Although temperatures dipped under 34 degrees (+1o Celsius) in the northern parts of the state, early indications show that the Sunshine State’s agriculture industry is OK.

South Miami-Dade’s agricultural sector has a $2.7 billion economic impact on the county. Low temperatures are deadly to the many acres of beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, onions and strawberries that depend on a frost-free growing season.

To some extent, farmers can protect against the occasional freeze. They can cover their crops, harvest them early or, most commonly, spray them continuously with water until it warms up outside. The water comes out of the ground warmer than the air around it, which keeps the plants from freezing. Too much watering, however, can cause diseases and root rot, like some farmers saw during the 2010 freeze.

But past a certain temperature, there’s not much to be done. Some say that if it’s down to 25o F (-4o Celsius), it’s all over. As the Miami Herald reported, Florida had a close call.

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