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Freezing temperatures means end of season for some Monterey County growers

Monterey County Strawberry Field

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Crops at JSM Organics in Royal Oaks are left frosted over, Monday, after chilling temperatures blew through the Central Coast.

"Mother Nature is telling us that the weather is changing. Any summer crops are history," said JSM Organics owner, Javier Zamora.

A freeze warning is in effect for Monterey County on Tuesday from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. Zamora said this signals an end to their season for warm weather crops like strawberries, zucchini and green beans.

"Some years come earlier than others. I'd have to look at my history, but it seems like it's a little early this year," said Zamora.

Zamora said the sudden switch in weather made for a "big loss" this year. 60% of their current summer produce will never make it to the table and had to be thrown into compost.

"When zucchini and summer squash get frozen at night, during the day the sun comes out and the water evaporates and they shrink. They're lost. They're edible, but you can't bring them to the grocery store like that unfortunately," said Zamora.

It's not just the crops that will endure the changing weather. Workers are facing it too. United Farm Workers (UFW) is asking growers to make schedule adjustments to avoid freezing conditions.

"The companies know how the weather is going to be. If tomorrow is going to be cold, they should tell the workers to come in at 9 a.m. or 9:30 a.m., instead of coming in at 7 a.m.," said United Farm Workers President, Lauro Barajas.

The team at JSM Organics is following suit. Their workers started an hour later than usual on Monday and plan to do so until it warms back up.

"Food needs to be produced, especially these days. That's what we do and we enjoy doing it. We must continue doing it. We need to protect ourselves and work fewer hours," said Zamora.

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Megan Meier

Megan Meier is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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