Farmer expresses concern over weather's impact on strawberries, - WSMV News 4

Farmer expresses concern over weather's impact on strawberries, other crops

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The up and down temperatures have many farmers eyeing their crops. (WSMV) The up and down temperatures have many farmers eyeing their crops. (WSMV)

The weather roller coaster has some Middle Tennessee farmers closely eyeing their cops, especially strawberries.

They say a warm and dry February set things ahead of schedule, but frosts could threaten how many crops turn out.

"This land is the land we grow on," said Peggy Marchetti, walking along her Madison Creek Farms in Goodlettsville. "It's not going to change. What does change is the weather, and you really have to learn how to adapt. We don't know in farming. Let's just go to the casino, because you're always taking a gamble. I'm kind of like being a doctor. I'm a doctor of the earth."

Marchetti said there has been a lot of doctoring to do with the drops in temperatures.

"What's so scary for strawberry farmers is the late frost," she said, walking through out to her strawberry beds. "They're just now starting to sprout up from their crown. We're had all these warm temperatures, and now, we're falling into below freezing. These are new growths, and you don't usually see these in Tennessee until the end of March."

Marchetti said the good news for her strawberries is there aren't any blooms. It's when there are blooms that frost takes berries.

"We're just going to row cover these and make sure they're nice and moist," she said, pulling fabric over a strawberry bed. "This is just a woven fabric, and we just take it and lay it over the bed, putting it over the strawberries. The temperatures from the ground will keep all that warm. It's like a blanket. By the end of March, we're really going to see if we have damage. Right now, with this cold temperature, we're okay as long as we don't get consecutive days of hard freezes.Of course, we've had snow in April. You just never know."

The bigger concern for Marchetti is somewhere else on the farm.

"The peach tree, see these buds, the only thing I can tell is its had some damage to the blooms," she said, walking around a tree. "We'll have to cover this tree tonight. My husband and I will have to catapult over those frost blankets."

Marchetti said Middle Tennessee counties further south are probably further along in their blooms and stand to lose more. She said her farm's location in a valley has also slowed blossoms.

"For small farmers like us, we're a direct seller to our customers," she said. "When we lose strawberries, and we lose blackberries or peaches or anything else that we grow, it really hurts. This is your livelihood. Pray for the best, absolutely."

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