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Hernando County farmers, others say cold snap wasn't too bad

BROOKSVILLE — Weather forecasters predicted below-freezing temperatures Thursday night. And for many Hernando County residents, that was a cue.

So when the thermometer hit 28 early Friday, they were ready.

Humane Society workers brought their animals indoors. Farmers covered their beans and protected their strawberries. And the homeless shelter had extra cots, just in case.

Joanne Schoch, executive director of the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, said the animal shelter has a system for when temperatures dip below 40 degrees.

Schoch cranks up the heat, and she and her co-workers bring the 50 cats and 25 dogs indoors, she said.

"We have cozy doggy beds that are lifted off the floor," she said Friday after the second night of freezing temperatures this week. "We tuck them in for the night so they're warm and cozy."

She's extra careful to protect younger and older dogs and those with thin coats, such as chihuahuas.

At Jericho Roads Ministries, Bryan Wall said the men's shelter on Mondon Hill Road had no extra visitors overnight.

As for Hernando farmers, most fared fine through this first snap, said Stacy Strickland of the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service. But it's not always possible to tell right away.

"A lot of freeze damage doesn't show up immediately," Strickland said. "Getting out the day after is not usually going to be a good indication of what we've had damaged."

Farmer George Casey of Brooksville said a short freeze doesn't hurt his blueberries and is good for his strawberries.

"The main thing is that if we don't have a little bit of cold weather, they won't be quite as sweet," he said. "Last year, we had 11 nights of cold in a row. We could have gotten by with two or three."

Joann Beasley, who owns 18 acres of farmland on Preston Road east of Brooksville, said she lost green beans, poll beans, yellow beans and squash in this week's freeze. The hardier crops, such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and mustard, were unharmed, she said.

"It's sad, but that's why I'm working really hard on my crops that did make it," she said.

If it's any consolation, slightly warmer weather is expected over the weekend.

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at bdavis@sptimes.com or at (352) 848-1432.

Hernando County farmers, others say cold snap wasn't too bad 12/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2010 8:39pm]
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