Frigid Temps Force Brooksville Strawberry Farmer Into Field


BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — It wasn’t quite a white Christmas for Jeff Casey, even though it felt that way.

What You Need To Know

  • Plunging temperatures force farmers to protect crops, livelihoods
  • Owner of Brooksville’s JG Ranch says he was up every hour checking temps
  • He he kept sprinklers running so water would protect his strawberries

With temperatures in 20s, it was more a wet and busy Christmas instead.

“I was up every hour, checking the temperatures,” Casey said Saturday. 

Casey owns JG Ranch in Brooksville. He has five acres of “u-pick” strawberries. 

Like many area farmers, he spent Christmas Day and night getting ready for the freeze. Forecasters say he could be in for another similar night Saturday, with a freeze likely again, according to our Spectrum News Weather Experts. 

“I was up at 7:30 on Christmas out and working, getting sprinklers running, making sure everything works fine,” Casey said. “Trying to get it done, working until sunset. Keeping everything under control, monitoring and looking at the weather.”

Keeping those sprinklers running is what can save his crops: The water keeps the strawberries from freezing. To keep his plants wet overnight, Casey said he has a quarter-inch of water spraying in the fields per hour.

If any of those sprinklers go out, it can mean an entire section of strawberries is ruined.

“The strawberries are my livelihood. If they go away, I don’t get income for the year. And everyone needs that paycheck,” Casey said. 

Some of his strawberries are ready to be picked as soon Sunday, making the process of saving the fruit even more urgent. 

JG Ranch is usually open Thursdays to Sundays for customers come by and pick fresh strawberries. For more information, visit

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