Cold snap causes losses at some local farms

Escondido grower estimates losses at 5% to 20%

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Freezing temperatures over the weekend took their toll on some San Diego farms, but the Farm Bureau reported that damage was much less than many growers feared.

Some of the strawberries at Be Wise Ranch in Escondido were burned by the excessive cold, even though the 60-acre crop was covered in cloth to protect the fruit.

"The tip's been totally frosted and frozen," said Bill Brammer as he held up a deformed strawberry.

Brammer says between 5 percent and 20 percent of his crop was damaged.

"The losses will keep accumulating, but the nice thing about strawberries is they keep putting out flowers," said Brammer. "We keep picking this crop until June or July."

Be Wise grows 60 organic crops on 180 acres of land located off San Pasqual Road. Some were impacted, while some were not.

Some lettuce, kale and chard that were not protected from the cold looked limp and burned in the field. Even those that were not damaged were affected, said Brammer, who has been an organic farmer for 35 years.

"The cold slows everything down so all the chards, all the kales, even that don't get hurt… they get slowed down enough that it takes another two to three weeks before you can pick them," he said.

Brammer predicted the freeze will increase the price of some crops for awhile.  For now, Be Wise is not taking any orders from local stores so it can supply fruit and vegetables to its Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, members.

Brammer took the cold weather losses in stride, calling it "a part of farming." Last summer, he lost several acres of tomatoes when the weather was too hot.

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