SPRINGFIELD, LA (WAFB) – Louisiana strawberry farmers who were hit by the August floods are crushed.
They are now realizing their land is in such bad shape, they won’t be able to plant this year. For one family, it is the first time in nearly a century.
At the Landry-Poche Farm, strawberries are a family staple.
“There’s been strawberries planted here every year since 1926,” said Rhonda Poche, a fourth generation farmer.
Poche learned at a young age, in this business, Mother Nature determines a farmer’s success.
“Perfect strawberry growing weather is 50 degree nights, 70 degree days, no rain, and plenty of sunshine,” Poche said.
When it gets cold in the winter, farmers use sheets to cover their crop. But when it rains, Poche said, there is not much they can do but watch and wait.
“You don’t sleep at night and you just cry. You know what the end result is going to be,” Poche said.
Poche said when floodwaters began to creep onto the family farm in August, they had to evacuate and hope for the best. She soon learned through photos taken by her son, that the property and everything on it had been ruined.
“Then I made my husband bring me on an airboat, and when you can ride an airboat all across there’s nothing left, you knew. You just knew,” Poche said.
When the water receded, a tougher reality set in. For the first time in 90 years, the Poches would not have a strawberry crop.
“It should be really pretty rows and black plastic and right now. I just see disaster,” Poche said.
The soil is tainted. Weeds and rocks have taken over the land that was, just weeks ago, primed for October planting.
“We need to get rid of this grass. We need to let it dry out. I don’t even know what we need to do to be real honest,” Poche said.
Once the land is ready, the Poches will have to replace tractors, coolers, and other equipment they used to harvest the berries. However, Poche said she has a strong feeling this is somehow just a minor setback.
“In the Bible, there’s a verse that says you’re supposed to let the land rest, and I think God was telling me let it rest. Next year we are going to get it back tenfold,” Poche said.
Poche estimates the family farm lost an estimated $50,000 in equipment.