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Cold Front Threatens Strawberry Crops

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Twenty minutes outside of Gainesville, Roy Brown,  owner and operator of Brown’s Farm, runs the family-owned business of growing peas, corn, okra, watermelon and now in-season strawberries . Their 4-acre Hawthorne strawberry field was covered Thursday, as Brown, 63, prepared for a night below 30-degree temperatures.

“It’s really a grow-type of cover,” Brown said. “It gets adequate sunlight and will let the flower continue to grow.”

Brown said the strawberry flower is very vulnerable to cold and with temperatures under 30 degrees, it could become deformed or worse, die.

This strawberry season, which began in October, the cool temperatures have slowed the growth-rate of the berries, but Brown said he hasn’t experienced extremely cold weather as in past years. Brown’s Farm strawberries are expected to peak early March.

“Our target is to peak at Easter,” Brown said.

Brown studied vegetable crops at the University of Florida but said he prefers the sweeter crops, like strawberries.

“Dad’s been growing here since the early 60’s,” Brown said, who began working on the farm upon his graduation over forty years ago.

As for his strawberries, Brown said their cover won’t come off until the cold front is over.

WRUF Weather reported a hard freeze warning for midnight until 9 a.m. Saturday with five to seven hours of below freezing point.

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