Berry farmers across the area cover crops to protect from cold

Updated: Nov. 30, 2020 at 3:49 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, La. (WVUE) - Temperatures are already starting to plummet across the Northshore and are expected to dip into the 20s tonight. For many, it’s time to protect pipes, people and vegetation. For others, it’s time to protect their livelihood.

After a long hot summer, a cool clear afternoon in Springfield is a sign of potential trouble overnight. Temperatures are expected to dip well into the 20s on the Northshore and for strawberry farmers like Lenny Threeton, it’s time to prepare to protect 100,000 plants.

“It’s a lot of labor but we still got to do it,” Threeton said.

Threeton will use thousands of yards of fiber covering to protect four varieties of strawberry plants that have fruit on them or blooms which means fruit is on the way.

The coverings are expensive and time-consuming but save farmers from having to stay up all night, as was the case in the past when plants were watered down to protect them.

“We can sleep all night with this cover but with frost control, you had to run it all night and watch it,” Threeton said.

The Threeton’s must also put out extra hay for livestock to help maintain their body temperature. It is a winter ritual the family has participated in for three generations.

Aside from taking precautions here in Springfield, they’re also taking precautions at nurseries in Mandeville where temperatures are also expected to dip into the lower 20s.

At the Garden Spot, nursery poinsettias, tropicals and young plants were being moved indoors, as growers across the Northshore take precautions.

And Lenny Threeton says thanks to precautions being taken today, his crop should survive 2020s first fall freeze just fine. But he knows more are on the way.

Horticulturists say if your tropical plant is too big to bring indoors they say to cover it with a cloth first before putting plastic over it.

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