CENTRAL COAST - Ole man winter has a grip on the Central Coast and he's taking a bite out of local agriculture.
Frost advisories are giving a chill to Central Coast farmers and nursery owners.
The freezing overnight temperatures are slowing down some farming operations and threatening more delicate crops.
It's been shorter days lately for local farm workers with the overnight frost delaying harvesting operations.
"Instead of getting the crews started early in the morning, often times the farmers have to wait until midday when the temperatures rise and there's no frost on the product", says Richard Quandt of the Central Coast Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association.
Those in the nursery business are taking special precautionary measures to protect delicate flowers and plants from the frigid overnight temperatures.
"We have to move everything in the greenhouse to keep it from freezing, melting and dying", says Salinas Valley nursery operator Monique Deaner", "sometimes we spray things outside if we can't move it inside."
Its not as much of a threat to other farmers.
"Not too much on the row crops", Quandt says, "it can impact some of the other commodities, but not too much on strawberries and vegetables, a lot of the plants are kind of dormant."
The frost advisories slow down harvesting and planting, but they are not expected to have any significant financial impact.
"There will not be any appreciable impact like killing the crops", Quandt adds.
Central Coast farmers know it might take longer to get their crops to market this time of year.
"This is fairly typical and we're also having rain showers, that creates muddy conditions and it also delays the harvesting", Quandt says, "but its something that is kind of expected in the winter."
The consistent rain falling on the Central Coast is good for agriculture because it recharges groundwater basins.
The Grower-Shipper Association expects it to be about an average year in terms of overall production for agriculture on the Central Coast.
The organization says the biggest concern for agriculture in 2013 is a growing labor shortage and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
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