(Jan. 21, 8:50 a.m.) PLANT CITY, Fla. — Facing the coldest nights in nearly a decade, Florida grower-shippers are preparing for two nights of freezing weather.

The National Weather Service has issued freeze warnings for central and south Florida for the evenings of Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. The freezing temperatures could harm Plant City strawberries and Belle Glade and Immokalee vegetables.

For the overnight hours of Jan. 21 and Jan. 22, temperatures in the Plant City area are forecast to fall to 30 degrees and 29 degrees, respectively.

For Belle Glade, forecasters predict temperatures may fall into the low- to mid-30s for both nights with Immokalee seeing a forecast of 43 degrees Jan. 21 and 34 degrees for Jan. 22.

Strawberry growers will be spraying their fields with water to prevent the berries from freezing in the igloo-like-ice domes.

Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Dover, said growers are hoping the berries will survive tonight’s freeze.

“We are in the zone where we will be very concerned but we will be watching every minute all night long,” he said. “Water freezes at 32 degrees and the plants freeze at 28 degrees. The strawberries don’t like to get wet. If can keep them dry and it doesn’t go below freezing, we will have the best of all worlds.”

Belle Glade growers are worried about how the cold could harm sweet corn and green bean production.

“Winds on Wednesday a.m. (Jan. 21) can help keep fields warm but if it is to be calm and cold on Thursday (Jan. 22), duration will be important as how long it remains cold could be more harsh on the crops,” said Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op. “If it’s 1 a.m. and we are experiencing 31-32 degrees, we could be in big trouble.”

Forecasters say the early morning hours of Jan. 21 could be the coldest night in eight years.