ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Dozens of helicopters are whirring above Florida's valuable and sensitive veggie crops, an unusual approach by farmers worried an uncommon freeze could wipe out their harvests.
The choppers hover low over green bean and sweet corn fields in the early morning hours to push warmer air closer to the plants - and, the farmers hope, save the plants from a deadly frost.
Farmers are especially nervous because an 11-day freeze in January wiped out many crops, from corn to kumquats. Florida is the United States' largest winter producer of sweet corn.
The stakes are high: in 2009, the value of production of sweet corn from Florida was $227 million.
The helicopters may be the last line of defense if temperatures dip below freezing as expected Tuesday night.