Strawberry farmers battling third night of cold

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 7 at 7:41 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

PONCHATOULA, La. - Eric Morrow is getting a first look at his strawberry crop in Ponchatoula after it was exposed to below freezing temperatures, as low as 16 degrees, for more than 15 hours.

"Yea, they're frozen solid," he said.

But there's still many signs of life-to-come among his 180,000 plants that encourage him.

"There is a challenge every year in strawberries. This is just a long period. It’s a very long crop so there's always challenges to overcome," said Morrow.

The farmers try to protect the plants by putting covers over the rows, tucking them on the sides and placing sandbags on top to try to make sure the covers don't move. However, when there's no wind, the bigger problem is that the frost sits on the plant. Not only is the frost sitting on the blooms, but it wilts the plant overall."

Morrow said, "We did OK. I don't think we're gonna save too much of the bloom or green fruit out there, but we'll come back later with a good crop and berries."

And that's the plus about a cold challenge, according to Morrow, because what happens today doesn't always mean the same for the next day.

 "What's happening now isn't really going to affect what happens later," he said. "We don't know what's going to happen later because those berries haven't even been made yet. The regular strawberry season will go along as regular strawberry season. It will just be a little bit delayed."

So Morrow will tuck the plants back under the covers for another night and hope another day of delay isn't created Tuesday night.

Farmers hope to have any damaged plants back in full berry-growing mode in four to five weeks.

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