Cool Temps Threaten Strawberry Crop

Near freezing temperatures could be trouble for one California crop

Jason Tinacci

California strawberry farmers said their flowers will burn and the fruits on them will receive serious freeze damage if the recent cold snap lingers.

Under the threat of the chilly mornings to come, field workers in Ventura County have been feverishly picking strawberries.
Temperatures are expected to be frigid, with highs in the 20s to low 30s.

Strawberry farmer Hector Gutierrez knows the cold winds will strike, and he's concerned about how long the chill will stick around.

If the low temperatures last for more than three hours, "we could potentially see some damage to the fruit and the flowers," Gutierrez said.

That damage means about $1,000 lost for each acre on Gutierrez’s 50-acre farm.

Ventura Country is sprinkled with small fruit shacks.
David Samudio knows a loss for the strawberry farmer is a loss for his business.

"Strawberries: that’s the number one business here," Samudio said. "If we didn’t have strawberries, our business would be no good."

Gutierrez is taking all the preventative measures to make sure he feels no loss.

He plans to water his strawberry plants at night to create some humidity in his field. That should in turn warm the crop.

"We will be keeping a close watch on the crop itself, taking some turns, coming out here to see what the temperatures are doing," he said.

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