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Freezing Florida temperatures cause farmers to fly helicopters hoping to save crops

'You might fly all night and then lose your crop right at daylight,' Paul Allen says
Posted at 12:28 PM, Jan 31, 2022

PAHOKEE, Fla. — The recent freezing temperatures caused Florida farmers to fly helicopters in hopes of saving their crops.

The goal of the helicopters is to push warm air down to rid frost from the fields.

Paul Allen with R.C. Hatton Farms in Pahokee said his team spent the overnight hours flying over their sweet corn.

"Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't," said Allen. "It gets too cold, so you never know. You might fly all night and then lose your crop right at daylight."

Paul Allen, R.C. Hatton Farms, Jan. 31, 2022
Paul Allen speaks about how helicopters can prevent the frost from forming on their corn crop.

For Allen, massive amounts of hard work are now gone.

"We've got some fields we've lost," said Allen. "We know it's gone. It's iced over. We kind of left it earlier in the evening."

Flying to keep the crops warm comes at an enormous expense, Allen said partly due to the pandemic and the supply chain crisis.

"Our fuel costs are double," said Allen. "Our fertilizer costs are 65% higher. And there's no guarantee we're going to get any more for our product than we did last year or the year before."

This weekend was the first time his team had to fly the helicopter.

He said he and his fellow farmers at R.C. Hatton will now work to regain their losses.

"Farmers are resilient," said Allen. "We're going to keep fighting. We're going to keep growing food for our country. That's what we do."