Water-Related News

Freeze Protection Impacts ARI: 22 Sinkholes Form in Hillsborough

From the St. Petersburg Times:

30 percent of Florida crops damaged by freeze; 22 sinkholes open after fields sprayed
By Craig Pittman and Jessica Vander Velde, St. Petersburg Times Staff Writers

Despite farmers' best efforts to protect their crops, about 30 percent of Florida's agricultural bounty was damaged by this month's freezing temperatures, state officials say.

"That doesn't mean we lost everything," state Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said. "We are hoping they can salvage as much as they can."

Meanwhile the farmers' attempts to save their strawberries, citrus and other crops by spraying them with water all night caused such a dramatic drop in the underground aquifer that it resulted in at least 22 sinkholes opening up in Hillsborough County.

Bronson said the farmers "had to do what was available to them" to save the crops — even if it led to damaging homes and roads.

Sinkholes have resulted before when farmers pumped millions of gallons of water out of the ground to spray it on their plants, hoping that the coating of ice that forms would protect the plants from damage.

But in the past, such sinkholes primarily affected the farmers themselves. The crumbling ground fell in and sucked down citrus trees or created instant lakes in the middle of a pasture.

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