Late March frost sours local berry patches

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:33 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A late March blast of chilly air has made life difficult for local berry patches just as strawberry picking season was getting underway.

A local grower says the combination of early March warmth with this latest blast of cold is creating plenty of headaches.

Codie Frick is the Co-Owner of F and C Family Farm in Thomas County. His one-acre strawberry patch and farm store is entering its second season at a picturesque setting just off Highway 84 outside of Boston. An orchard of Satsuma trees was planted several years earlier.

Frick said he knows there’s often one more frost before Easter, so the circumstances aren’t entirely shocking.

Still, Tuesday morning’s heavy frost did some damage. It may take some time to learn just how many berries didn’t make it.

“We won’t see a full effect of what kind of damage we’ve had until probably 30 days,” Frick said. “Either we won’t have the crop that’s there, or we’ll have a damaged crop on our strawberries. And our Satsumas, we probably won’t know for a couple months what kind of damage we’ve got.”

He said the berries ready to pick right now were not damaged by the frost, but come mid-April, their berry supply may be dwindling.

They do sell homemade ice cream, which he said will help offset any losses.

In Leon County, Orchard Pond organics said the Monday morning chill didn’t damage their crops, but Tuesday was a different story.

According to Sales Manager Lisa Bauman, the farm lost most of its berries to the frost and will have to postpone its U-pick session this Saturday.

Bauman said she hopes early April U-picks would still go on as scheduled.