Farmers in St. Johns County prepare for cold, blanket crops

Blue Sky Farms spends hours covering field with soil


ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – People were not the only ones bundling up Friday evening. Farmers are also prepping for the cold by blanketing their crops.

News4Jax visited Blue Sky Farms in St. Johns County, where workers spent hours covering the field with soil.

It's the beginning of potato season, and since many farmers rely financially on one crop, they do everything they can to make sure it survives the cold.

Danny Johns is the owner of Blue Sky Farms and has been harvesting potatoes since he was a youngster. Johns said this is the time of year Blue Sky Farms takes cover with its crops.

"This is where the potatoes are popping through. That's the stage you don't want them to get frozen at, because it'll start all the way back to the seed piece," said Johns. "But if it freezes at this stage, it'll have to start all over again. All the roots will have to come back again."

Since it takes 90 to 100 days for these potatoes to fully form, Johns will make sure to cover the 600 rows of budding revenue.

"The potatoes are just popping through the ground, the plants are really small so we just throw a bed of dirt on top of them and that helps them protect them from the cold," Johns said. "We grow 18,000 acres of potatoes grown in the area, which is a lot. So we supply the whole east coast. About a third of our crops will go to Canada, so we're the bread basket of the country in the winter time."

Head gardener Megan Dejonge said that some of the crops can bear the bitter cold.

Johns said he expects an extended freeze into next week. But if the cold continues, his concern for the crops will rise.

"If this comes into two or three weeks -- which has happened in the past -- or four weeks later, it can be really devastating. But right now, it's early in the season to expect to have a freeze coming along now," Johns said.

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