Drew Echols, farm manager of Jaemor Farms in Alto, says his strawberries have begun to bloom and his peach buds are swelling early. The National Weather Service has been reporting temperatures 5 to 10 degrees higher than average in the area.
"It's almost comical right now. At this point there is nothing you can do but laugh about it and say, 'I can't believe it's this warm,'" he said. "It's just unusual, really abnormal. Obviously, it's too warm, too quick."
Echols worries his crops won't be able to handle freezing temperatures that are likely to come before winter's end.
Those fears are valid, state climatologist David Stooksbury told The Times in Gainesville. He said that another week of temperatures in the mid-60s and higher would cause peaches and blueberries to really start blooming, which could be problematic.
"We're almost guaranteed a killing freeze between now and when we'd normally expect the danger of frost to be done," he said.
"The problem with freezes is it only takes one that will set everything back," Stooksbury said. "It only takes one night regardless of how beautiful it was up until that night."
Home gardeners can plant spring gardens - with produce like lettuce, potatoes and peas - but should wait a bit before planing summer gardens, Stooksbury said, offering some guidance.
"Plant the summer garden on Good Friday," he said. "This year that should be a good bet because it will be in late April. Good Friday we should be very safe."
Echols, who manages 8 acres of strawberries and a nearly 60-acre peach orchard, subscribes to agricultural weather reports and has thermometers placed around his farm. He says he'd like to see temperatures drop, but as long as the peaches haven't blossomed, he says they'll be safe in the cold.
"We're still at least two weeks away from full bloom, which in the grand scheme, that would be only about two weeks early. But with this little season here, early spring, late winter, two weeks for us is a big deal," he said.
"If it hit below freezing tonight, I'd hit my knees and thank God it got that cold," Echols said.