Strawberry farmers brace for the cold

Published: Mar. 2, 2013 at 10:24 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2013 at 4:08 AM CST
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Ponchatoula, LA -- The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is next month and farmers want to make sure they have plenty of berries for you, so they'll be up all night protecting their crop as overnight temperatures dip into the 20s.

Farmers from across the metro area pack the weekly Crescent City Farmers Market in the Central Business District, with fresh strawberries and produce.

"This is all we do. This is what we do, sell our produce," Christine Monica of Monica's Okra World.

"As you can see I have very few strawberries left. I brought in a ton. Things are just booming," says Heather Robertson, owner of John Dale's Strawberry Farm.

When the market closed for the day, Robertson raced home in Ponchatoula, to check on her babies, more than 15 acres of sweet, Louisiana strawberries.

Tonight on the North Shore it's going to be really cold, we're looking temperatures between 26 and 28. We were covered last night, we had a frost this morning and we'll be covered and walking the fields all night. So it's going to be a long night," says Robertson.

For thousands of Louisiana's farmers, their crop is time and money, and every second of cold weather could mean larger losses.

Robertson says they're so focused on protecting this year's crop of veggies and fruit because the bloom is exceptionally good.

"We've been picking since the week of Thanksgiving. And right now the plants are so loaded, they're full of blooms and full of berries so we have to take precautions," says Robertson.

Strawberry farmers will leave their crops covered until Monday when the temperature warms up.

At that time they'll take the covering off to see how the berries fared.

"You can tell the very next day, you can look at the blooms, if they're tender, you can tell if that little bloom if it's burnt it will be black in the center and what do you do if it is, you just throw that berry away, that's it, but the blanket will protect it, it will be fine," says Robertson.

If you just can't wait until strawberry festival, you can find Heather Robertson's berries in Zupardos and Rouses grocery stores.