Blueberry farm to light bonfires in attempt to save crops from freeze

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ELKINS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Local farmers say tonight’s freeze comes at the worst possible time. Hatch Farms in Elkins today took a unique approach to keeping their crops warm.

It’s about to get very cold in Northwest Arkansas.

Matthew Varoz owns Hatch Farm in Elkins. He says his blueberry crop is at the worst possible stage in their life cycle to be hit with a frost. “It’s not looking good,” Varoz said. “It doesn’t take a lot of cold temperatures to totally kill that bud, and that bloom that then turns into that berry.”

Any normal year, Varoz says each acre could produce upward of 700 gallons of blueberries per acre. He says every acre saved is crucial. “We supply farmers markets, restaurants and we have a lot of customers come out for the U-pick so a lot of people will feel the hurt if we freeze out,” Varoz said.

So, Varoz is fighting frost with fire. “The plan is, 3 o’clock in the morning tomorrow we’ll come out and start lighting the 300 bonfires,” Varoz said. “Hopefully we can raise the temperature enough that we don’t lose our entire blueberry crop.”

If all goes well, Hatch Farm will be just warm enough to bloom another day.

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