Local farmers prepare for cooler temperatures

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
Farmers in cold weather

Local farmers are working in overdrive to make sure they don't lose their ripe fruit to a recent drop in temperatures. (WRDW-TV / April 11, 2012)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- To salvage their crops, fruit farms had workers out in the fields in preparation for Wednesday night's cold snap.

They were scrambling to get everything done. They said they were going to be out working until dark trying to make sure the fruit survives the frost.

Clyde Gurosik has been growing strawberries at Gurosik's Berry Plantation in North Augusta for more than 30 years.

"The weather this year has probably been the most unpredictable we've ever seen," he said.

Just last week four nights of storms caused them to throw out 80 percent of their fruit for four days.

"We have to do that in order to clean the plants up so the new fruit that's coming on will be good," he said. "They've done that. We're at that stage now everything is rocking along like it should."

But now the cold weather is threatening to create more problems.

"Out here in the country when you're actually measuring true ground temperatures, which is what the poor little strawberry plant sees and his temperature will drop at least 5 degrees cooler than that weather shelter temperature," he said.

Gurosik's workers spent the afternoon picking all the ripe strawberries to make sure they don't lose more crops.

"That would be pretty damaging to a lot more of that ripe fruit," he said. "Won't hurt the green fruit. It can take it."

But the biggest concern isn't the strawberries, it's the blackberries.

"If you lose the hybrid blackberry blooms, you just lost a crop. It's over. They are extremely vulnerable to something like this," he said.

Flowers and produce are vulnerable also.

"They're just as susceptible as a strawberry plant is," he said. "A tomato plant, a pepper plant."

The best bet to save the crops is to turn the sprinklers on.

"If we have to, we'll put the water on them. We have iced tomato plants and flower plants and we've saved them all, it's just something we don't like to do."

But for now all they can do is hope that on Thursday morning they won't be throwing out fruit for the second time in a week.

The biggest concern is on the farms and they say most household plants should be just fine.

Produce and flowers are vulnerable, though, so if you are growing tomatoes or peppers, those are the things that need to be covered.

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