Farmers deal with cost, stress during cold weather

Farmers have to spend money and time on precautionary measures

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Homestead farmer Sam Accursio fears the frigid temperatures could completely wipe out his crops.

He had to deal with extra costs and stress on Thursday to do what he could to prevent the loss.  The Accursio's family farm grows green beans, okra, sweet corn, pickles and squash.

They set up an intricate irrigation system. Their hope is that it will work smoothly to keep all of the vegetation in the farm wet. 

"The water coming out of the ground is about 70 degrees, so you run that and it will heat the plant up," Accursio said. "The more moisture you have, the hotter is going to stay." 

Florida's agricultural sector was on alert. The state ranks first in production value for oranges, fresh market tomatoes, watermelons, grapefruit, sugarcane, fresh market snap beans and fresh market cucumbers. 

Avocado, bell pepper, cabbage, carambola, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, grapefruit, guava, lettuce, mushroom, orange, passion fruit, radish, snap bean, squash, strawberry, sweet corn, tangerine and tomato are in season in December. 

Farm workers were also going to lose money. The Florida Department of Health in Collier County urged workers in Immokalee to stay indoors as much as possible and dress in multiple layers. 

John L. Alger, the president of Alger Farms in Homestead, grows sweet corn and beans, and he also has a nursery with a variety of palms.   

"As a precaution we are irrigating everything we've got," Alger said. "Everything is wet and sealed up as possible."

The last time Alger and Accursio experienced similar temperatures was back in 2015. Accursio said all of the precautions they took will pay off. 

"This is how we make our living," Alger said. "If we don't have packages, we don't pay the bills."


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