LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Carl Grooms has faced it all at Fancy Farms as a strawberry grower, from hard freezes to high winds.
“This is my 49th berry crop, so I’ve been through a lot things in the last 49 years,” said Grooms.
Once again, he finds himself preparing for freezing temperatures as an artic blast is expected to push into Florida.
Grooms, his son and staff have already been busy preparing.
“We made sure we had plenty of diesel in all the tanks because there was talk of shortages, so we made sure we had ’em all capped off. We tested our irrigation yesterday. Made sure there is nothing broke, stopped up or the engines don’t crank up,” said Grooms.
They also picked as many berries as they could in anticipation of the weekend’s cold weather.
Their biggest decisions will come this weekend as they monitor the conditions hour-by-hour to decide when to turn on pumps and activate sprinklers to coat their crop with a protective layer of ice.
“We are wetting the berry plant and the berry at a rate of so many gallons per minute, that if the temperature is low enough, it will create like an igloo effect over the plant and the bloom and the berry,” said Grooms.
He’s hoping that will be enough to protect the crop of his 150-acre farm.
“The berry will be alright, it will come through, providing our irrigation pumps stay running because once you start this process and the temperatures are below 32 and your engines conk out or quit running, you’ve got a problem,” said Grooms.