U.S.: Early peach, blueberry crops in Georgia hit by frost damage - FreshFruitPortal.com

U.S.: Early peach, blueberry crops in Georgia hit by frost damage

U.S.: Early peach, blueberry crops in Georgia hit by frost damage

Blueberry and peach production in the U.S. state of Georgia has been damaged by two separate freeze events during March, with the early varieties most affected. 

Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association executive director Charles Hall said the southeastern state had experienced freezing temperatures on March 8 and then again a week later.

"The first really did not have a lot of damage with peaches or vegetables, but the second on March 15 hit the peach crop harder," he said.

"That particular freeze got into the mid-20s for several hours, which will hurt any blooms or small fruit that might be beginning to bud out, so we lost the early varieties for those peaches pretty heavily."

He said that based on conversations with industry members, it seemed that early peach volumes - which typically account for 15-20% of total production - available in May would be "limited". But he expected a "pretty good crop" for the later peaches harvested in from June.

For blueberries, Hall said the level of damage varied greatly depending on the geography of the land, and estimated that 20-30% of the early crop was damaged.

"We had some growers that got into 23ºF or 24ºF and it was there for six or seven hours, those growers probably lots a large part of their production for those varieties," he said, adding other growers had lost very little.

He also said that at least half of blueberry growers had overhead irrigation and wind machines to limit the damage.

This is the second consecutive year that Georgia peach and blueberry growers have been affected by frost damages, with low temperatures in March last year hit around three-quarters of the blueberry crop.

"This year was not as bad as last year. While there are some growers that got hit very hard, this year was not as much of an industry-wide situation as we had last year when we had heavy losses across the entire region and across all blueberry production," he said.

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