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Alabama consumers may pay more due to the Xmas weekend cold snap

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Alabama’s agriculture industry is assessing the damage from the arctic cold snap over Christmas weekend. Temperatures plunged into the teens following a week with highs in the seventies statewide. Alabama’s strawberry crop is showing minor freeze damage. Blake Thaxton is executive director of the Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Association. He says some other crops were clearly hit hard.

“Those are your cool season crops like cabbage, carrot and broccoli in south Alabama, where we don’t typically think about protecting those crops, and they got cold damage pretty bad,” said Thaxton

Alabama strawberry farmers wrapped their plants in protective cloth similar to the material used in COVID-19 face masks. Still, that wasn’t enough to safeguard their crop during the worst cold to hit the state since the late 1980’s. Consumers may see higher prices through the end of this year. Thaxton says damage to Alabama’s citrus crop may not be clear until next fall when the fruit is ready for harvest.

“I think that’s another example of where you’ll see lingering effects into next fall’s crop because these are perennial trees that are very year to year, and if there’s a bunch of damage will take until next year for those trees to recover,” he said.

Thaxton says Alabama’s agriculture industry was dealt a challenging hand in trying to defend against the arctic cold. For example, if strawberry plants were protected too much from the frigid conditions, the crop could begin to produce fruit too early to survive

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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