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USA - Early morning freeze kills portion of peach crop

Friday morning’s big chill left Georgia peach growers out in the cold.

In middle Georgia, a grower said the freezing temperatures killed up to 50 percent of the blooms that would have been the first peaches of the season.

In the metro, losses are likely up to 10 percent.

Hall County grower Drew Echols said if he tore open every flower on his 120 acres of peach trees, he would find that one in 10 did not survive the weather.

“This little black spot right in the center is a dead peach,” Echols said.

At Jaemor Farms in Alto, temperatures dropped as low as 28 degrees and were under 32 for nearly eight hours.

“That many hours below freezing is kind of touch and go,” Echols said.

It triggered bad memories of a year ago, when the Jaemor crews turned on huge fans to stir up the air, and ran all the sprinklers to protect the trees with an insulating layer of ice.

Echols now has a new UGA Weather Station on the farm that gives him the current temperature, humidity and wind chill.

“I’ve got it saved in my phone. I can go right to it and immediately see what’s happening on the farm. So far, it’s been very accurate,” Echols said.

Echols said next week may tell the tale for this year’s peach crop. The trees will be closer to full bloom, and there’s another threat for temperatures to drop below freezing.

“I’m waiting on Katie Walls and Glenn Burns to tell me that we’re good. That’s what I’m waiting on, 70 degree temperatures,” Echols said.

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