Tampa Bay area, Hernando County

US: Florida cold keeps farmers busy

Temperatures in Hernando County took a dive Wednesday night, reaching into the low 20s (-7o C) near Brooksville, forcing some local farmers to brace for the worst. Forecasts attributed the coldest temperatures for the northern parts of the Tampa Bay area.

Recent cold snaps in the area are 'not normal in any way' for Hernando farms, and the effects of the colder-than-normal weather have been bad. "This is the coldest I have seen it in years, and it has affected us very dramatically," said Casey, who has been a farmer in Hernando since 2000. "This weather really sets us on our heels and has hit the entire industry hard."

According to Casey, his ranch has lost more than half of its normal production due to the cold. While winter vegetables - lettuces, greens, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower - have survived, it’s been hard to keep the strawberry plants safe.

Tampabay.com reported also on Dan Ebbecke, owner of Upicktopia in Masaryktown, who said he has had the same problem with strawberries, his biggest crop. He spent Wednesday night into Thursday morning keeping water on the plants to make sure they didn’t freeze and die.

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