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"Tunnels gave some protection against storm": Central Texas farmers get first look at storm aftermath

Texas farmers harvested as much produce as they could before the historic storm that hit the state with a five-day deep freeze, and now that fields have thawed, they are seeing just how many crops they lost.

Greenhouses and high tunnels saved some area crops, but not all of them. Gabriel Valley Farms in Georgetown, which provides transplants to many local farms and nurseries, lost two unheated greenhouses’ worth of plants, but everything in the heated houses was saved.

At Bouldin Food Forest, a vegetable farm near Rogers, just south of Temple, farmer Ben McConnell had been working on building a high tunnel that could withstand wind, snow and anything else Texas weather can throw at it.

On Thursday, McConnell walked inside one of them to find several hundred heads of lettuce still alive. "Previous iterations of the tunnel collapsed or were destroyed by storms," he said. "This is No. 7, and it's our gold medalist."  He lost everything outside the tunnel, except for maybe the spinach. 

Some farmers and backyard gardeners were surprised to find some plants that were well covered and close to the ground survived, thanks in part to the 6 inches of snow on top of the row cover that provided insulation from the coldest temperatures. 

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