Freeze warning issued, farmers scrambling to protect lettuce

Freeze Watch

Freeze warning issued, farmers scrambling to protect lettuce

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Yuma, AZ- Hundreds of workers hit the fields today scrambling to cover lettuce after a freeze watch was issued for Friday night.

Ramos, a migrant worker tells News 13 they're using large plastic tarps to cover some of the crops. This is done to trap the heat in and prevent "tip burn" to the lettuce leafs.

"If we don't protect it we would have to start work later tomorrow because the lettuce would be frozen. That's why we are putting plastic on it now," said Ramos.

You may also notice only some sections on those lettuce fields are covered in that black plastic. We're told only the lettuce that is ready to be harvested the next day is covered.

They are doing all they can to protect these crops from the freezing temperatures because it can mean millions of dollars in damages for these local farms.

"Two years ago we had a significant freeze that was estimated in millions of dollars of losses," said Kurt Nolte an Agricultural Expert with the University of Arizona.

He says this particular freeze may not be as bad as predicated, but farmers still want to be prepared.

"They are well aware that cold weather is coming their way and so they take precaution, they are also irrigating warm water into the field to help protect the crops from freezing," said Nolte.

Protecting the lettuce from the cold isn't a difficult job according to Ramos but with today's high winds it made things very challenging for them.

"When it's this windy, like it is right now you can see it makes it very hard for us to put the plastic down correctly," said Ramos.

He says if the crops aren't covered in time and if they become ruined by the frozen weather it could also hurt these migrant workers financially.

"If we come in later we work less hours. We make less money. We normally work 8-9 hours a day. So if the lettuce is frozen it cuts our day short. It's all about productivity for the business owners and for the workers," said Ramos.

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