AROUND HASTINGS: Farmers have strategies for overcoming cold snaps

The weather plays an integral part in the success and profitability of a farmer’s crops and the affordability and availability of crops at the market. This past fall, the challenges were torrential rains and high winds; this past week, it was freezing temperatures over several nights.

 

Wrapping one’s banana tree can be done by most homeowners, but how do farmers keep 5 or 500 acres from being irreparably damaged? Depending on the crop, there are few options.

Providing plenty of groundwater is the most successful way the freezing temperatures can be mitigated and prevent plants from being destroyed by a hard freeze. The groundwater is between 68-70 degrees, and kept running, can keep the plants warm.

Getting produce harvested early can also save a crop that’s in jeopardy of freezing, but that’s contingent on it not being too cold for workers to pick the crops, and the produce being close enough to maturity to be harvested successfully.

California and Florida are the only suppliers of fresh vegetables like green beans, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, and onions during the winter months. A freeze that kills off winter crops in Florida results in much higher costs to consumers at the marketplace, especially on the East Coast.

The large citrus groves of this area have been gone for some time, since the cold temperatures — including annual freezes — settled in on Northeast Florida regularly in the late 1890s. Citrus trees can withstand temperatures as low as 28 degrees for less than three hours. Freezes lasting longer than that will damage the fruit and sometimes kill off the trees.

Orange trees were reportedly first planted in the St. Augustine region by early Spanish settlers in the 16th century. The hard freezes of the late 1890s forced more than 80 percent of this region’s citrus groves to be relocated further south, and lands once dedicated to oranges were converted to development and farms specializing in growing potatoes and hardier crops. The one exception was the Boston-based Wetumpka Fruit Company which still had large, well-established citrus groves in the Hastings area into the 1940s.

• The Council on Aging-Hastings is taking advantage of National Book Month at the Hastings Library on Friday when they go to the library at 10:30 a.m. for their first book club meeting. On Jan. 19 (Dolly Parton’s 72nd birthday), Brandon Lotcki’s “Family Feud” will begin at 10:30 a.m., right after everyone’s had coffee. The monthly COA Birthday Party is Jan. 24, sponsored by Humana; on Jan. 26, it’s 1980s Fads Friday, so bring or wear something ’80s and be part of the fun. The Council on Aging–Hastings meets at the Lord’s Temple Fellowship Hall at 40 Gilmore Street and is in session every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• The Hastings Library is hosting Exploring Great Artists from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 16 and Jan. 30, where kids can learn about artists and then create their own work in that artist’s medium. Kids get to build their own art portfolio. Genealogy Research is being presented on Jan. 18 and Jan. 25 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Ms. Rita’s Adult Book Club, currently reading “A House Among the Trees” by Julia Glass, meets Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Teen Lounge: Games and Crafts is set for Jan. 20 from 1-2 p.m. where teens can interact with MindFlex, build with Legos, sing karaoke, or do crafts like sewing, painting or beading. All supplies are provided by the Friends of the Library, so there is no fee for the teens to participate.

Jan. 26 is for the little ones, with Family Storytime beginning at 10 a.m., followed by Stay ‘n Play from 10:30 to 11 a.m.

And, new members are warmly invited to the Hastings Friends of the Library. This group meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

And, if you’d like an opportunity to win a hand-made quilt depicting the Hastings Team Up T-shirts of 2016-17, stop in the library and buy a ticket for the drawing to be held in the spring. The quilt is on display there. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Library fund that provides supplies for programs during the year and buys back to school supplies for kids in need around the region.

• Fridays from 7-9 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Fellowship Hall on East Lattin Street, the Christian 12-Step Ministry: Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ group meets. The program is free, and all are welcome.

• Registrations for the second annual Hastings Boulevard Car Show on Feb. 10 are coming in at a good pace, so it looks like last year’s 60 vehicles will be surpassed this year. Applications can be picked up at the Hastings Library desk and if registered before Jan. 30, vehicle registration is $20. The event is free to spectators and includes music, food and other vendors as well as trophies for the division winners!

• Pastor Mason of the new Anastasia Church Elkton warmly invites anyone looking for a church home to join them for their weekly services held at the Southwoods Elementary School on Sundays at 10 a.m.

Contact Nancy Quatrano at nancy@nlquatrano.com by 5 p.m. on Fridays if you have information for the column; please put “Hastings” in the subject line.


Contact Nancy Quatrano at nancy@nlquatrano.com by 5 p.m. on Fridays if you have information for the column; please put “Hastings” in the subject line.


 

More