- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

AMITE CITY, La. (AP) - Some strawberry growers were hit by floods, wind and freezing temperatures, but others are optimistic about the season, the LSU AgCenter says.

“Some of our growers here in Tangipahoa did sustain some damage with the freeze, but overall it’s not too bad,” AgCenter agent Whitney Wallace in Tangipahoa Parish said in a news release.

Natalie Jones, farm manager of Faust Farms in Amite said tornado-force winds damaged her packing shed, but her 10 acres of strawberries suffered only minor damage from heavy rains and frigid temperatures.

“We do have some berries and blooms that were burnt, and they have to be discarded. But the damage was not that extensive,” Jones said.

Most growers use cloth covers to keep the heat around the plants to avoid extensive damage to the crop. Jones says she double-covered some fields.

Growers leave the covers on the plants until they know the low temperatures will be in the lower 40s, she said.

The number of strawberry farmers in the state has decreased from about 200 in 2005 to just over 80 now.

According to the 2015 Louisiana Ag Summary, the gross farm value of the strawberry industry was just over $15 million per year.

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