Southern Strawberry, Peach Growers Concerned About Cold Snap

Peach growers in the Carolinas and Georgia were concerned about the near-freezing temperatures hitting the area over the past weekend. With trees in full bloom, growers were concerned that a frost could be damaging.

The Ashville Citizen-Times reports that a freeze warning was issued by the National Weather Service for the weekend, with temperatures forecast in the mid-to-low 20s for consecutive nights.

Growers in Henderson County, NC, had a poor peach crop last year, due to damage from cold weather.

“Unfortunately for our peaches, most varieties are in full bloom,” Henderson cooperative extension service director Marvin Owings told the Citizen-Times. “28 degrees is the critical temperature. The colder you get below 28, the more damage you get.”

WCNC TV in Charlotte, NC, reports growers lost 30% of their crop in 2014 to a late-March frost, which cost grower $27 million. The report says the peach industry produces 60,000 tons in South Carolina and 4,400 in North Carolina.

Mark Kulpinski says he will be covering Springs Farms’ 28 acres of strawberries under covers.

“We can gain five degrees under the cover,” Kulpinski said.

Kulpinski says if temperatures dipped below 32 degrees, there will be damage to his peach blooms.

Arthur Black of Black’s Peaches in York, SC, told The Herald in Rock Hill, SC, the weekend weather was devastating to his peaches.

“The ones that had bloomed out, it pretty much killed it. I lost over half of (the crop),” he said.

James and Bernie Kenan of Bernie’s Berries & Produce Farm in Greensboro, NC, were turning on sprinklers in order to protect their strawberry crop.

“If you stop or your system fails or something or the other, then the temperature falls and if this bloom gets below 30 degrees, then it aborts and there goes your strawberries,” James Kenan told Time Warner Cable News in Triad,NC.

Meanwhile in Macon, GA, James Brown, professor of horticulture at Fort Valley State University told WMAZ TV if temperatures dropped in the mid-20s, more damage on peach crops would be possible.

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