Popular Luffa Gardens farmer harvests early to avoid icy crops

REEDLEY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The storm has muddied up fields and orchards all over the Valley, and work can't resume until the ground starts to dry.

The luffa pods on the vine at Luffa Gardens got a good soaking, but we're quite ready for harvest. The rain keeps them growing, but farmer Nathan Paulls said his crop can't take the extreme cold.

"We were expecting it to freeze Monday night and these luffas, a hint of a freeze they die down to the root," He said. "So at that point, we might have a day or two to pick what's left or what we can try to salvage."

Luffa was stacked like firewood on Paulls' Reedley farm.

He normally picks when they turn yellow but couldn't risk losing the bulk of this crop so he harvested as much of the green ones as he could.

Most of the luffas made the cut. All of the pods will be soaked in water so the skin can be removed.

"If we pick them and they snap, that means at least the sponge itself is mature," Paulls said.

Eventually, it will be cleaned and dried and shipped out.

Nathan says online orders for luffa have picked up ahead of the Christmas season. Some are coming in from places like Egypt and Guatemala, where it's abundant.

"The ones that grow wild, the ones that grow in the garden are much harsher than these. I think that's why we're getting orders from places where they're actually wild," he said.

Paulls doesn't mind harvesting in the cold but would prefer temperatures not dip too low.

"Some years we don't freeze until January, and that would really be very beneficial," he said.

Nathan Paulls also has a greenhouse full of luffa, but he's just trying to extend his outdoor growing seas
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