Pasco growers spent the past two days with little sleep as they stood vigil over thermometers and ran sprinklers to protect their tender crops during a freeze that has gripped much of the state.
"We'll be freeze protecting — again," Brenda Short, owner of Brenda's Berry Barn in northwest Pasco, said Thursday afternoon. She and her husband, Jerry, have had to turn on the irrigation system to coat their blueberry blooms and strawberry plants.
"I look at the thermometer and he goes outside," she said. On Wednesday, they had to crank up the sprinklers at 7:30 p.m. The night before it was about 4 a.m.
The 2 1/2 acres of blueberries survived. As for the 5,550 strawberry plants, "We had a few mushy ones we had to throw away."
Short had been growing some vegetables — tomatoes, green beans, lettuce and squash — but they are all likely lost to the cold.
"They were all just an experiment," she said.
Nursery owners weathered the freeze okay, too.
Brightman Logan, owner of All Native nursery near San Antonio, said his staff spent many hours covering plants and moving them inside greenhouses, where they used a fog machine to create heat.
He said the temperature reached 21 degrees early Thursday morning and 26 degrees early Wednesday.
"I've never seen a year with this many freezes," he said.
The weather is expected to begin warming up today. Highs are expected to reach the upper 60s.
By the weekend, highs are expected to return to the more seasonal low 70s.
Lisa Buie can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4604.