USA - Blueberry farmer fights low temps to save millions in crops

07.03.2019 260 views
During a cold snap, we add extra layers of clothing to combat the cold but for farmers, the frigid temperatures mean potentially million dollars in crop losses.
Blueberries crops are purposely insulated with ice to save the crop (Source: WECT)
Blueberries crops are purposely insulated with ice to save the crop (Source: WECT)
Such is the case at Winner’s Circle Blueberries in Sampson County.
Owner Bill Augustine hasn’t slept in several nights because he and his crew are working in the dark, pumping water onto his 800 acres of prized blueberry bushes.
“It’s really a lot of drama and a lot of aggravation to this,” said Augustine, who has a lot at stake. Winner’s Circle is the largest single family owned blueberry farm on the east coast.
“I’ve been doing this for nearly 50 years," he said. “I started farming blueberries in New Jersey, and it was easy there. The crop was automatic.”
That isn’t the case in southeastern North Carolina, where roller coaster temps are common.
“For the past five years, the weather has been terrible, freezes every year, rain during harvest season last year, four weeks of bad pollination weather, and then hurricanes,” Augustine said.
Last year, weather cost Winner’s Circle about 40 percent of its crop. Augustine said he can’t stand to lose that this season.
Walking onto the sprawling farm, it’s almost like a scene from a military operation. Helicopters whirl overhead, and tractors carrying propane tanks pumping warm air trudge through the rows of crops.
“What we are doing now is pumping water on the bushes at night for insulation, literally freezing the crop to insulate the baby blueberries,” Augustine said.
During the day, he keeps the water pumping to make sure the bushes say above 35 degrees while also flying over head with a helicopter.
“The helicopter flies around for eight hours during the process," Augustine explained. "He is trying to push warm air down from an inversion layer that we are told is above us about 60 to 80 feet.”
It’s a combination of ground and air support that hopes to find the right amount of heat to salvage the fragile blooms.
“We can’t let the plant go below 22 degrees or we lose everything,” Augustine said. “You basically have to be an engineer to raise blueberries. It’s so crazy with the weather.”
This nightly regimen costs Augustine around $25,000 a night.
“The investment is astronomical," he said. "This crop right here is worth anywhere from $2-6 million.”
Helicopters fly overhead at Winner's Circle farms working to push warm air down on the crop (Source: WECT)
Helicopters fly overhead at Winner's Circle farms working to push warm air down on the crop (Source: WECT)
Battling the frigid temps is not only for Augustine’s livelihood, but also the pressure to get his prized blueberries on your table is also there.
“I go to stores not only in the state but in Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Canada," he said. “Not only do they all know my business, they know I raise a big fat blueberry, and that’s what people want to eat.”
To supplement his income just in case there is crop loss, Augustine has about 100 acres of blueberries in bloom in a warehouse.
“I am the only one in North Carolina doing this," he said. "I am in direct competition with Florida to get this early harvest out first.”
Augustine hopes to salvage what he can from the crops in the next 60-75 days.
North Carolina is the sixth-largest producer of blueberries in the nation. Source -

South Africa - Next week's table grape crop estimate to shed light on Cape's flood impact

After last weekend's prodigious rainfall across the Western Cape, the South African Table Grape Industry expects some flood damage to vineyards - some of the earliest varieties are already budding - and its first table grape crop estimate for the 2023/2024 season will reflect the new reality.


Peru - Extent of reduced blueberry harvest only now becoming truly clear

Contrary to the trend in recent years, Peruvian blueberry volumes are currently quite disappointing. "Due to El Niño, Peru has significantly lower production, something that's only now becoming truly clear.


USA - Oriental Fruit Fly quarantines expanded in California

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has updated quarantine boundaries for the Oriental Fruit Fly in California to now include, Sacramento County (Rancho Cordova Area), Contra Costa County (Brentwood Area), and Santa Clara County (Santa Clara Area).


Greece - Due to violent weather changes, growers lost about 60% of their apple harvest

The apple cultivation in Greece is expected to be lower than usual, in the area that grows quite a chunk of the Greek national production, Matoula Katsika, export and sales manager for Greek fruit exporter A.C. Kissavos, says: “The apple production in our region, and in general for the producing countries of the EU, appear to be reduced for the new season.


Ukraine - Perspectives for using drones in agriculture

At the international online seminar EastFruit, under the auspices of FAO/EBRD and organized by and, the prospects of using agricultural drones for the cultivation of vegetables and fruits were discussed. Gleb Lesoviy, a GIS specialist from DroneUA, shared crucial insights into this technology.


India - Farmers’ protest for crop loss compensation continues in Barwani

Members of National Farmer Labour Federation on Thursday burnt effigy of state agriculture minister Kamal Patel to vent their ire over government’s indifference to the plight of farmers.


Italy - About 20 hectares of tomatoes damaged by hail, 75 more to harvest

Last Saturday (September 23), some areas of Puglia were hit by violent and unforeseen extreme weather conditions, which mainly affected vegetable crops, vineyards and olive groves.


Peru - Serious problems affecting both volumes and quality of table grapes

As the hotter than average weather in Peru is slowing the growth and exports of blueberries, the opposite is happening with the table grape harvest, which has now speeded up the harvest to nearly a month earlier.

istanbul escort şişli escort tbilisi escort şişli escort şişli escort maslak escort istanbul escort beşiktaş escort taksim escort izmir escort ümraniye escort mecidiyeköy escort şişli escort taksim escort ümraniye escort kartal escort şirinevler escort maltepe escort istanbul escort ümraniye escort kadıköy escort vip escort mersin escort istanbul escorts ataköy escort avcılar escort beylikdüzü escort okmeydanı escort şişli escort tuzla escort işitme cihazı sex shop sex shop sex shop sex shop sex shop sex shop sex shop sex shop