Farmers protect crops against expected sub-freezing temperatures

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MULLINS, SC (WBTW) – Sub-freezing temperatures have farmers protecting their home-grown crops that are weeks away from being ready to pick.

Fifth-generation farmer Dupree Atkinson spends days like Friday preparing his crops for trouble expected overnight. For forty years, Atkinson has grown strawberries and has survived his crops through several cold winters and natural disasters.

He said it’s not always easy and temperatures expected overnight on Friday can sometimes be a challenge for him. “We could lose probably about a third of our crop right here because you get probably get four to five really good pickings and you don’t want to lose one, you could lose two here at one time,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson plans to run water across the top of his strawberries as he’s found to be the best method over the years in protecting his berries against frost. The blossoms are among the top priority keeping protected, as the ones on Atkinson Farm are just four weeks away from harvest.

“If we lose these we won’t have anything coming up in four weeks and those are important weeks because you want to make Easter and you want to make Memorial Day,” Atkinson said. Those two weekends are when strawberries are in high demand, according to Atkinson.

Each crop contributes to Atkinson’s bottom line. When Atkinson was asked if he gets anxious during hard winter weather or natural disaster that could put the business on the line, he said, “farmers are eternal optimists so we keep going…”

He always finds recovery.

“You pray… and you just have faith,” Atkinson said.

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