MIAMI (CBS4) – Farmers across South Florida are breathing a little easier Tuesday after the arctic air that covered the area for the last two days slowly begins to break.
Many farmers were irrigating their crops throughout the night to prevent the tender vegetation from freezing. The irrigated water is warm enough to effectively “form a blanket” over the crops, according to Sam Accursio of Accursio Farms.
“The pickles are most sensitive to the cold,” Accursio said, “then the squash, and then the beans are last.”
Part of the problem farmers faced was the wind became calm overnight which allowed the cold air to really set in at the ground level. Accursio said once the winds died down, they ramped up their irrigation usage across the farms.
“It’s much better (when the winds are higher),” Accursio said. “It will not allow the frost to settle.”
Accursio shut down the irrigation system around 9 a.m. as the sun began to warm the area. Tuesday night was the third frost event farmers have had to deal with in December.
“It’s a huge economic loss to the community, to the farmers, to the workers, to everybody” Accursio said. “This town is run by agriculture.”
As the sun began to warm the air, Accursio said that his crops had a good deal of ice on them and that, “I don’t think they are going to be saved.” Accursio also said that while it’s not a total loss, he won’t know the full extent of the damage for a few days.
Other farmers like John Algers said he feels like his crops came through okay, but is still nervous about the potential for cold weather Tuesday night and no wind.
“All of our money is out in the fields right now,” Algers said. “We’ve bought the seed, the fertilizer, the spray, the investment and overhead; so we’re hoping to get some of the revenue back.”
Accuweather.com senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls told CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald that Florida’s orange crop probably wasn’t damaged by the cold overnight temperatures.