MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Local farmers will be keeping a close eye on their crops as temperatures drop this weekend.

A hard freeze would be the worst-case scenario – and one the president of West Coast Tomato Bob Spencer said he is hoping the Tampa Bay area can avoid.

“Well, if you’re a pessimistic person you wouldn’t be in farming, so we’re naturally optimistic,” said Spencer.

Spencer said he hasn’t been this worried about cold weather in four or five years.

“If it goes below 30 degrees for 2-3 hours, the plant actually freezes and can die,” he said, “the fruit gets freeze damage on it and it’s not able to be shipped so has it has devastating impact.”

Spencer said about five or six hundred acres of farmland where they grow their tomatoes are potentially at risk.

“We’ll be running the water from the ground wells all night long,” Spencer explained. “The groundwater comes up at a higher temperature than ambient air so that gives some protection. But the most important thing we can do is pray because Mother Nature runs the show and we’re just playing in her playground.”

If Mother Nature brings enough cold weather to kill their crops, Spencer said they will replant to replenish their supply of ripe tomatoes.

“Most farmers when they get knocked down,” he said, “they get back up and keep working.”

If there is a freeze, smaller farms could face a bigger setback if they don’t have crop insurance.