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Cold Causes Minor To Moderate Crop Damage In Dade

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South Dade farmers worked through the night to protect their crops from the cold.  (Source: CBS4)

South Dade farmers worked through the night to protect their crops from the cold. (Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – As temperatures dipped into the mid to upper 30s in inland Miami-Dade and Broward Counties overnight, farmers in south Dade worked through the night to protect their winter crops.

At Alger Farms in Homestead, workers monitored the temperatures around their 1,100 acres of corn and beans. Owner John Alger said cold weather snaps severely damaged his crops in the last couple of years but he’s holding out hope this year will be different.

“It’s just a matter of watching and monitoring and praying it doesn’t take our crops away,” he said.

He added that there’s nothing else they can do.

“It’s the business we’re in. We’ve had three bad years and let’s hope we don’t have a fourth one,” said Alger.

Many farmers sprayed their crops with water as the temperature drop to form a protect layer over their crops. As the sun came up and temps dipped again, field workers in long raincoats walked through their fields making sure the water was dousing tender crops.

Hugo Salazar showed CBS4’s Joan Murray frost covered plants that won’t make it.

Agriculture experts said the damage is minor to moderate on south Dade’s 65,000 acres of winter vegetable crops.

“Some temperatures did get down to very low thirties to high twenties for a certain period of time and that does cause damage,” Charles LaPradd, agriculture manager of Miami-Dade County, said. “Growers were as prepared as they could be and they pulled stuff through.”

On Tuesday, the county’s agriculture department said from the reports they’ve received, there have been pockets of crop damage which ranged from minor to moderate; the full extent of it won’t be known for the next day or two.

If their crops survived the night will little to no damage, farmers will have dodged a proverbial bullet this time.

But after two very dismal growing years because of lasting freezes, grower and fruit stand operator Robert Moehling said they are ready for a rebound

“A little adversity, as long as it’s not too much, a little bit…sometimes it’s good for agriculturist because the prices might come up some,” he said.

Afternoon temperatures will reach the upper 50s on Wednesday. Forecast lows for the night will be in the low 40s inland and upper 40s along the coast. On Thursday, high temperatures will be around 70 degrees. Beginning Friday through the weekend, highs will be in the upper 70s during the day and mid to upper 50s at night.

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