Last Thursday, John Magarro was predicting that his strawberry fields would bring a gold rush "if the weather is permitting." One day later, some of those golden dreams melted away, as freezing winds killed an estimated 60% of the octogenarian's delicate crop.
But there still is hope for a good harvest at the Magarro family's 250-acre strawberry field in Irvine.
"Friday night's frost killed off all the new blooms and young berries," said John Jr., Magarro's grandson and a foreman on the family farm. "But it's not all lost. It will just put us behind in the market, that's for sure. But we had the mature fruit picked already. We were afraid if we didn't get it in time, the frost would get it."
Although a large chunk of the next cycle of strawberries is gone, John Magarro Jr. predicts that in three to four weeks the farm should be back to normal "just as long as we don't get no more frost."
Warmer Than Usual
The cold spell was the first streak of violent weather this winter, which had been warmer than usual. It was just this unseasonably mild weather that allowed Veronica Valenzuela, 18, to join about 50 other workers in the Magarro's fields nearly two weeks earlier than usual.