Crops survive cold night with another threatening night ahead

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Record-breaking temperatures threaten farmers like Chris Eckert, at Eckert’s Farm in Belleville.

“It is hard to sleep soundly when you got so much at stake out here,” Chris Eckert, President at Eckert’s Farms said. “You are just hoping mother nature is going to cooperate.”

After a sleepless night, Eckert is waking up and counting his blessings.

“We were up all night watching the strawberry crop here especially,” Eckert said. “I’m pretty happy because I can’t see any dead flowers as a result of last night’s event.”

There’s a sigh of relief after yesterday’s snow and cold forced an early harvest of 2,000 pounds of asparagus.

As for the fruit not ready for harvest, it was a tough 24 hours.

“It was within a degree or two degrees of making a major difference for us,” Eckert says. “As long as we are running the water, it will keep the flowers at 32 degrees. It will not get any colder than that.”

Irrigation keeping the crops from forming frost. But even with the water running, tensions still running high.

“It doesn’t take very long to have a disaster. If we have a water main break or something of that nature, we can lose a substantial amount of crop within an hour.”

Luckily, no breakdowns or crops were lost.

Of all the strawberry, peach, and apple crops there has been no sign of damage.

“It was a close call for us, but fortunately we came on the good side,” Eckert said.

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