It’s berry, berry cold for local strawberry farms

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PONCHATOULA, La. -- With unusually cold temperatures, local farmers are taking extra precaution when it comes to their crop by putting it in a brief hibernation.

Ponchatoula strawberry farmer William Fletcher is making sure his crop is nice and snug this winter.

"What you see are row covers that are currently stretched over and protecting the strawberry plants.  It is water, sunlight, and air permeable, and it will protect down to about 26 degrees," says Fletcher.

Venturing up to Ponchatoula to see the plants first hand, I noticed how the plants look like they are covered with giant blankets.

"What we are looking to protect primarily are the blooms, the berries, and the red fruit that's on them.  The plants themselves are pretty hardy," says Fletcher.

Fletcher seems light-hearted and not too worried about the winter freeze.

We even share a few jokes.

Insert the puns.

"The strawberries can't bear this cold weather!"

"They are berry berry cold!"

Fletcher says the blooms are the berries of the future.

Therefore, with cold weather, it slows down their growth significantly or ruins their chances.

"The blooms we are trying to save today are most likely our Valentine's day berries," says Fletcher.

If successful, the fields at Fletcher Strawberry Farm will harvest up to 85,400 strawberry plants!

Right around the corner, you might just see these gorgeous berries at the annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

The festival kicks off April 13th.

"It's kind of a source of civic pride that we are able to host so many folks from so many places and show them such a good time.  We of course want to be able to send them home with our trademark item, the trademark souvenir which is a nice flat and a beautiful Ponchatoula Strawberry."

Fletcher says the farmland has been in his family for five generations.

Overlooking his covered crop, he says it's a family heirloom he will cherish for a lifetime.

"You know there is a sense of tradition there's a sense of continuation, there is a sense of you know, having something to hand down to my boys and if they show any interest in farming or want to continue any of this on there will be something up and running for them to kind of take over and give the old man a break one day," says Fletcher.


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