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Cold Spring temperatures threaten farmers' strawberry crops

Cold Spring temperatures threaten farmers' strawberry crops

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They're red, plump and juicy.

Well, they will be once the strawberry crops across the East bloom in a few weeks.

"See all these little crowns?" asks Mike Skinner, co-owner of Strawberries on 903, as he examines his crops. "Every one of those will be a berry."

But a few nights of below-freezing temperatures could mean losing it all if farmers like Skinner don't act quickly.

"The biggest thing is these cold nights, you've got to protect that crop," Skinner says. "Those nice little blooms and small berries, they can't get below 32 degrees. If it does, it will kill the blooms and fruit."

Skinner says his crops are about 2-3 weeks behind schedule. To protect the sensitive berry blooms, Skinner and his team work overtime to cover them up and trap in heat.

"During the day with the sunshine, this black cover really helps accumulate heat in the soil and this soil underneath," he says as he points to a plastic sheet that covers the soil.

He also tracks the daily air and soil temperatures through National Weather Service reports so he can plan ahead.

"Thursday night, it got to 27 degrees here and if we hadn't protected it, we would've lost the entire crop."

It's just another day in the life of a farmer working to bring you the ripest strawberries.

"All they see is the nice beautiful berries on the counter for sale – the nice, ripe, sweet fruit," Skinner says. "They don't realize, it takes 10 months to grow this crop of berries and get to the point where you've got a marketable product. And every year there's different challenges in the strawberry business."  

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