Georgia fruit farmers prepare budding crops ahead of weekend cold blast

The potential for winter weather has some fruit farmers concerned about the impact it could have on their budding crops.
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 6:44 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The potential for a winter mix and frigid cold temperatures have some farmers concerned about the impact the weather could have on their budding crops.

To the untrained eye, one might assume Jaemor Farms in Hall County could be in trouble given number of peach trees blooming on the sprawling property in Hall County. Owner Drew Echols said they’re usually worried about a deep freeze in April, but the weekend forecast could be troublesome.

“You could wake up Sunday morning and all it be hammered,” he said. “This particular freeze. It’s going deep, deep into Georgia.”

With temperatures expected to plummet into the 20s, Echols started preparing his crops on Thursday, covering the 22 acres of strawberries on his family farm with massive blankets.

“Those blankets are going to protect blooms and fruit down to about 21 degrees,” he explained.

Not covered are the 150 acres of peach trees which, like the strawberries, have started to partly bloom. Last April, Jaemore Farms lost $1.8 million worth of peach crops during an deep freeze. Fortunately for Echols, he only needs about 300 good buds on a peach tree to have a good crop.

“What I feel like may happen is these open flowers, probably going to lose them but there are about a thousand blooms on this tree,” he said.

Echols said when crops start losing their petals, the fruit inside grows more tender. There’s little to no protection. Most of his crop is in the flower state, making them “pretty resilient.”

“Those petals down in there is insolation, just like a blanket,” he added. “Best case of scenario right here.”

While he’s hoping Mother Nature spares him any drastic surprises this weekend, Echols said he’s cautiously optimistic about his budding crop.

“The silver linings on strawberries are they keep blooming,” he said. “They’re constantly producing flowers from now through July.”