Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Growers the Chills
A deep plunging cold front has growers in the Southeast worried as hard freezes were projected as far south as Florida by mid-week. Peach and blueberry growers were especially nervous as crops were in bloom earlier than normal in some areas.
The temperature range and length of cold hopefully will spare most blooming crops. Georgia peach grower Al Pearson told Macon’s WMAZ TV he believes his crop will “weather the storm.” He noted many of his trees had not bloomed at this point. And, those they had were not fully bloomed.
Georgia peach grower, Jeff Wainwright of Taylor Orchards, told GrowingProduce.com his peaches had come through Wednesday morning (3/15/17) in good shape. He noted, he hopes for the same outcome over Thursday evening and morning.
Chuck Allison, Owner of Spring Valley Farms near Umatilla, FL, says his blueberry crop is more vulnerable than in most years because the crop is further along earlier in the season.
“The industry has more exposure to damage from cold weather now that the crop has progressed faster than in previous years,” Allison says. “We are late in the year to experience this level of cold air. We should generally be OK with good freeze protection measures, but we will experience freezing temps, especially in the lower areas. Georgia’s rabbiteye crop is at risk, because they don’t freeze protect those berries.”