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Cold Weather Affecting Some State Crops

7:30 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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Santee, SC (WLTX) - The recent extreme cold weather is affecting some crops in the Midlands.

Farmers typically grow different crops for different seasons, and many of them don't look to grow things like strawberries until a bit later in the season.
It foods such as like kale, turnips, and mustard and collard greens for farmers this time a year, and one farm in Santee says the dip in temperatures rendered their crops just about unusable.

"We're looking at a major, if not total loss, just trying to salvage," said Montez Hilliard of his produce crops.

Riding along with the father and son team at Hilliard Farms, the damage is easy to see. It's when you get up close that you're able to see the full story.

Joe and Montez Hilliard, second and third generation farmers, said all of their crops have been damaged by the cold that made its way south this week, part of a large weather pattern that brought temperatures down across much of the county. 

They said their produce crops are a complete loss.

"You went not just to cold, but extreme cold," said Montez Hilliard, the junior of the pair. "You went down, now, to where the collard greens can't even stand the temperature we're actually at."

Over 100-acres at their farm is damaged from the freeze, they said.

Montez Hilliard said that amounted to about $10,000.

But the damage to their crops affects more than just their own bottom line.

They said they have a small staff of about five workers, all with families to feed and bills to pay of their own. 

As the crops that once stood tall remain wilted -- some still frozen -- the complete picture is still being pieced together.

"It's not counting the time that you're down, not selling," Montez Hilliard said. "So you know you're pretty much at the end of it, if not very close to breaking even, probably in the red."

Looking forward, the duo is still hopeful for their old family farm.

After everything is said and done, and warm weather causes crops to thaw, they may still be able to salvage a few yields.

Joe Hilliard said that process could take anywhere from three to 10 days.

"Then see if you've got a marketable product and if somebody is going to want what you got (sic) left out here," he said.

The state's Agricultural Commissioner, Hugh Weathers tells News19 the full affect of the damage in South Carolina won't be fully assessed for about another week when temperatures warm up.

Weathers also said you may not even see an impact on your wallet because they are hoping the cold doesn't last much longer.

However, if the cold returns or continues to last, it could begin affecting local prices, Weathers said.


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