LORENZO, Texas — The snow is gone and the weather has warmed, but last week’s storm is still very much in the present for some farmers
“Unfortunately it looks like most of the crop is pretty much done,” said Caprock Berry Farms strawberry farmer, Dakota Keyser. “When you plant a farm, you plan for the worst-case scenario and unfortunately that was basically last week for strawberry operations.”
Caprock Berry Farms is in its second year planting strawberries, and while they always prepare their crop for cold weather, they never expected the extreme freeze they got.
“We had the whole crop covered and then we had a really bad wind that damaged some of the stuff,” said Keyser.
When they planted the field they expected a yield of 20 to 30,000 pounds of strawberries, but are now only expecting around a thousand pounds.
“Just thinking about whether it is viable still or not,” said Keyser. “Really we had to wait to really know the damage and it is pretty bad.”
According to Keyser, strawberries are typically somewhat cold resistant, but experts say that the long duration of freezing temperatures and the lack of snow is what ultimately killed the plants.
“Snow is a great insulator of plants; it can maintain temperatures well above freezing, maybe not well above but at least it keeps it from freezing,” said Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Agent Kerry Siders. “It just depends on how deep that freeze penetrates into the plant, to the growing point, and if it kills the growing point, it can literally kill the whole plant.”
But even preparing most likely wouldn’t have saved the strawberries from their fate.
“There isn’t a lot you can do,” said Siders.
Kysler now just plans to continue watering the crop and hope some plants survived.
“It’s a high-risk, high-reward crop,” said Keyser.